It apparently depends who you ask…
If you ask Facebook, it’s “VR, AR, and Smart Glasses” and, of course, a giant corporation like Facebook. If you ask someone in Crypto the response could range anywhere from “gaming plus NFTs” to “Crypto IS the Metaverse!”.
Of course the real answer is, the Metaverse is kind kind of a mix of both…
The term "metaverse" was originally coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. In the book, the Metaverse was described as a shared "imaginary place”, that is "made available to the public over the worldwide fiber-optics network" and accessed via virtual reality goggles. In it, developers can "build buildings, parks, signs, as well as things that do not exist in Reality, such as vast hovering overhead light shows, special neighborhoods where the rules of three-dimensional spacetime are ignored, and free-combat zones where people can go to hunt and kill each other."
In the 30 years since Snow Crash came out, we’ve seen small elements of that early vision briefly appear (and disappear) but now it feels everything is finally converging. All the required elements are falling into place.
"Mark Zuckerberg has decided that now is the time to build the Metaverse, so enormous wheels are turning and resources are flowing and the effort is definitely going to be made." – Meta CTO John Carmack
VR is fast reaching a point of maturity where the goggles are seemingly melting away to compact models capable of retina resolution, which is in turn taking it out of a hobbyist niche and into a dedicated and rapidly growing user base. And on the other side of the coin, crypto is becoming scalable enough, fast enough, and trustworthy enough to enable the kind of persistent-states that running such a public virtual world demands.
With this definition, the argument could be made that as the Metaverse is actually both those things. XR (extended reality VR/AR) combined with decentralized public trust (crypto). Expectations of one naturally leads to expectations for the other.
U.A.Fabrica is more than just another game company. With experience in building APIs and crypto frameworks, the primary mission of Fabrica is to provide a high level interfaces for game developers who may be already skilled in programming, yet may not have the time or resources to learn blockchain from the ground up. In the same way most game devs don’t code their graphics card instructions directly, instead relying on some kind of API or game engine to do the heavy lifting so they can get on with being creative.
Creating a game-focused web2 abstraction set is win-win-win. Firstly, for reducing the time spent in launching new game IP for ourselves and getting new blockchain/web3 enabled games to launch. Secondly, expanding the talent pool available to work on video games beyond the already stretched blockchain dev community. And lastly, positioning ourselves as a fundamental tool for the millions of indie game devs out there who stand to benefit from these new modes of economy.
What might this look like? Unreal/Unity drag and drop plugins that can use our own token for in game transactions, and an NFT management dashboard to mint and manage in game items and item sets.
Open standards are great when everyone agrees. And hopefully the enthusiasm Facebook has expressed towards contributing to the Metaverse will lead to some truly open standards for cross-application compatibility (taking the same avatar into every single world you visit), but we aren’t going to sit around and wait either. U.A.Fabrica is building towards creating open standards, and we are doing it from day one starting with our flagship game Plutonians.
The NFT avatars for example will be built to be compatible with VR Chat from day one. Also for example, our ships will contain metadata regarding their speed, mass, and maneuverability provided in meters per second that will be easy to read into any other game world, be it future game worlds from UA Fabrica, partners, or (hopefully) world-builders we don’t even know.
There are of course problems with any open standard like this. Players trying to enjoy immersion of a story or unique gameplay may chose to opt for a “pure mode” in which restrictions are placed on what you can and can’t bring into a game world instance. Seeing someone rip through the rings of Saturn in a Deloran might not really be canon for the story mission you are currently trying to enjoy, therefore we also propose a standard for opt-in “multiverses”, which is simply a list that limits things like physics, models, and objects to a specific set for a certain game world instance.
Plutonians for example may have a main storyline which is one instance of the multiverse where you can enjoy the story without expecting to see Kaneda’s bike suddenly overtake you as you approach reentry on Phobos… But then once you’re done with the main storyline, switch back into the Metaverse instance to see what everyone else is up to and what they thought of the mission…