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Bored Ape Yacht Club parent company Yuga Labs launched its Second Trip for its Otherside universe today as a new “metaverse” experience.
The company launched the experience with many thousands of simultaneous users, all interacting in real time, according to Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable, the tech partner for the project. Yuga Labs is among the contenders trying to create an experience in metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
The Second Trip builds on last summer’s First Trip, where Yuga Labs and Improbable were able to squish 4,500 people into the same real-time 3D world with 3D audio using software from Cambridge, England-based Improbable, which has been experimenting with tech to build massive gaming worlds for years.
Back then, the tech showed that players enjoyed full physics effects for their characters, and they could speak with each other in small groups using 3D audio, or hear all the players at once. I participated in the Second Trip today and it was a similar experience, but seemingly with far more people. Narula didn’t say how many people participated today, but suffice to say it was a record number. Earlier, the companies said that the experience would hold 10,000 people.
“We have a lot more capacity than the last time and I expect it could break the record,” Narula said.
Yuga Labs invited Otherdeed holders, or people who had bought its non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which was one of the sensations of the NFT craze of the past couple of years. Holders of a dozen projects were able to copy their PFP images onto the screen-like faces of Voyagers, the name of the space-faring avatars used to navigate the landscape of the virtual world of Otherside.
“In terms of accessibility, they are definitely at opening up a broader community,” Narula said. “There are going to be 12 different companies and providers.”
Yuga Labs has the resources to be a “metaverse” contender. It raised $450 million in March 2022. And Yuga Labs initially sold 55,000 Otherdeed NFTs for virtual land ownership. That generated about $320 million in primary sales. Overall, the Otherdeed NFTs have generated secondary sales of more than 500,00 ETH, or above $800 million. Each Otherdeed NFT is worth around $2,920.
The Second Trip Experience
This morning, I joined thousands of players in a waiting world dubbed Infinity Space, where Improbable determined how many people it could support in the experience. As more and more people joined, it became a crazy collection of avatars, all bouncing around and running or jumping onto platforms that vaulted avatars into space. I settled on top of a floating orange ring in the middle until “Curtis” arrived.
Players could join from a simple web link, with no download required. This time, Yuga Labs and Improbable demonstrated a a variety of art styles and environments, different characters with customized avatars, more guest passes and accessibility, more scale an density and new game mechanics.
“This is the first stage in a series of new reveals,” Narula said. “The way we create content is really different from other people are doing. It’s an improved version. It’s a larger number of people in different environments.”
Curtis was an over-sized avatar in the form of a Bored Ape, and he walked around for a while and stoked the crowd. Then he invited everyone into a portal, which sucked in the players into a new environment. Curtis announced that the group would be divided into four groups, each led by influencers who were the team captains: Brycent, Jimmy Wong, Champ Medici, and Lowbellie.
The previous trip had played dropped into a place called the Biogenic Swamp and players battled giant Kodas from the world of Otheside. This time, we were dropped into a green world and slid down a giant slide, always trying to collect some gold objects known as “magic blobs.” As I ran by everyone, I could hear all of them talking or see their texts flying by. It was a pretty place, with lots of colors.
At the bottom of the slide was a gateway with giant toads. Our team’s job was to collect magic blobs and drop them with the toads, which would use them to blast a hole in a new portal. Each team competed with the other. I could carry about 35 blobs at a time before I had to empty them into a toad. The teams collected blobs in the millions, reflecting how many people were in the experience.
I was on Team Veldan, and we came in third with around 1.9 million points, behind Team Crimson and Team Glacia. The latter won with 2.1 million points. I had 1,080 points. Then the gateway opened and we transitioned again as Curtis said, “No Voyager will be left behind.”
Next, we landed in the world of a giant blue pyramid. Again, there were thousands of Voyagers there. This time, there were three Giant Toad platforms, where the middle platform blasted the pyramid to get to the next portal, while the side platforms aimed at the other opposing teams to try to blast the opponents so they couldn’t score points.
Meanwhile, we slid down a slide and had to collect magic blogs again. I kept missing the aerial platforms and wasting time trying to get back up to the right spot. So there was some skill involved. If everyone was as bad as me, we were going to lose. I sped around trying to collect as many as a I could and maneuver through the landscape without missing jumps. We lost again, but the teleportal opened and we flew through the air to the pyramid and transported again.
This time we landed in a desert with a giant dinosaur boneyard. We all converged on Curtis and bounced around. He called us ankle biters and a cacophony of nerds.
The experience in the desert ended when Curtis was shocked to see a giant monster appear in the boneyard and let out a deafening roar. It was a dramatic moment.
We returned back to the Infinity Space.
Was it a fun experience? Well, it wasn’t God of War. You can see from the video that it was almost more like a virtual concert, a shared experience where you could marvel at how many people were there. We did busy-body tasks and sped around the environment. It was an accessible game where everybody got to contribute and it was akin to a kind of Subway Surfers experience in an open world.
But it was a pretty amazing technical achievement, and it shows the kind of experiences that will come when the metaverse finally gets here.
“I think we’re gonna be using more GPUs in one instance, in one brief period of time, than anybody has used before from our provider,” said Narula. “Pretty crazy. This is the massive difference between everything we do and everything everyone else does. All of the users are in one world at one time, and can all interact with each other at the same time. They can all be in the same spot. They will all be able to interact with each other and hear each other’s voices. That’s why it requires billions of messages.”
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