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How to create a metaverse: 5 open source projects Cover

How to create a metaverse: 5 open source projects

The Metaverse is a new, advanced version of the Internet, which is being developed by many developers. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of free tools for creating the metaverse.

The article will be useful for developers and designers who want to start working with virtual worlds, but have never come across it before. The projects in the compilation are arranged in the “from simple to complex”  order, so they are suitable for both beginners and experienced professionals.

Mozilla Hubs — simple virtual spaces

This is a cross-platform app from the developers of the Firefox web browser. In Mozilla Hubs, users can meet and work in 3D virtual spaces. Unlike other similar apps, Hubs is open source. This means that it is not only suitable for event organizers, but also for developers and designers.

Demo of Mozilla Hubs main features

Mozilla Hubs has a built-in Spoke scene editor. It allows you to create objects for use in the Hubs “rooms”. The editor runs in a web browser and allows you to upload your own 3D models, images, and files. It’s a simple tool to help aspiring designers create their first virtual space. 

Developers can use the code from GitHub and the official documentation to deploy their own client on their server. This will help to study the basic principles of the architecture of the metaverse from the inside. In addition, programmers can suggest enhancements to Mozilla Hubs to help make the Internet more open and free.

JanusXR — replaces websites with virtual rooms

In 2014, University of Toronto alumnus James McCray founded the JanusXR platform. With it, you can turn a regular web page into a three-dimensional space. All “rooms” are connected with each other by teleports, which are analogues of hyperlinks. Thus, a unified network of spaces is created — a metaverse. In 2019, the project was closed for financial reasons, and all the program code is now on the public domain.

Demonstration of the main functions of the JanusXR platform

JanusXR is a set of several tools:

  1. The main client. In it, you can create and explore virtual spaces using a VR headset.
  2. Janus Web widget. It allows you to connect to the metaverse with a regular 2D browser.
  3. VESTA. This is a free hosting on which you can start creating your virtual space.
  4. Exporters. Using them, you can load 3D models and animations into JanusXR from other popular programs: Blender, Unity, Unreal Engine, Maya and Sketchup.

Documentation on using JanusXR is available on the official website. Also, the complete JavaScript code and description can be found on GitHub. The tools are suitable for developers and designers who are just getting started with the metaverse.

Vircadia — a ready-made solution for creating a virtual world

The Vircadia ecosystem is a large collection of open source apps. Any user can create and run a virtual world on their own server, and then include it in the shared metaverse. If we draw an analogy with the traditional Internet, then this is similar to developing a website in the Tilda constructor.

Virtual club developed with Vircadia

Vircadia is made up of several apps: SDK, Interface, Server, Metaverse. So developers and designers will have to study a lot of help documentation in English. Therefore, Vircadia tools are suitable for professionals who are sure that they want to work and develop in the field of the metaverse. 

XR Engine — a framework for the development of the metaverse

The XR Engine project started as a collaboration between freelancers who were building virtual worlds. They have accumulated a lot of developments, which it was decided to assemble into a single framework from various libraries for creating programs.

The scene that is modeled with the XR Engine

The XR Engine code is written in JavaScript. It includes an infrastructure with voice, video, avatars, a visual editor, and portals between worlds. That’s enough to create your own games and social apps for the metaverse. Besides the main product, there are also additional tools:

  1. Blockchain-In-A-Box. Everything you need to run a virtual world on the Ethereum blockchain. For example, smart contracts and APIs for identity, inventory, and currency processing.
  2. Digital Beings. Connects machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to the virtual world. For example, GPT-3, GPT-J, RASA, etc.
  3. Universal Volumetric. A cross-platform video codec for playing and transmitting 3D animations in the metaverse.
  4. Unity XR Bridge. A bridge that connects the Unity game development platform to the metaverse.

XR Engine is similar to Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, but works decentralized and free of charge. All tools are published on the XR Foundation GitHub page. They are suitable for advanced developers.

Webaverse — an open standard from the community

The future metaverse risks being owned by one or two companies. The counterweight to this scenario is Webaverse, a full-fledged metaverse built on a decentralized infrastructure. Within this metaverse, apps can be built using open standards. This means that all the developments will be available to any Internet users and will not depend on Webaverse. They will run on any browser and VR headset.

Upon entering Webaverse, the user immediately begins to control his avatar

There are many independent developers working on open standards, among them the founder of the Voxels (CryptoVoxels) metaverse and the creator of the JanusWeb widget. Here are just a few of the free tools:

  1. Metachromium is a special version of the Chromium web browser that gives you the ability to run any existing application in the metaverse.
  2. MetaRTC is a function for real-time communication between users.
  3. Cryptopolys — helps to create virtual objects within the metaverse.
  4. XR package is a program for packaging, installing, running and publishing DApps in the metaverse.
  5. Third Party Clients — allow you to display the virtual worlds of Decentraland, Voxels (CryptoVoxels) and Mozilla Hubs inside Webaverse.

Webaverse doesn’t have a single solution like a website builder. You will have to look for the necessary tools on the official website, on the GitHub repositories and on the Discord channel. Therefore, Webaverse is suitable for experienced developers who have already encountered the metaverse, but want to go deeper.

Recommended material

For those who want to know about the companies that create content in the metaverse. The article told who builds offices on virtual land and why.

Conclusion

In this article, we looked at tools for designers and developers that will be useful when working with the metaverse. For convenience, we have arranged them in order of increasing complexity:

  • Mozilla Hubs and JanusXR will suit those who have not worked with the metaverse before.
  • More experienced professionals should pay attention to Vircadia and XR Engine.
  • Webaverse will be useful to study for those who are already well versed in the metaverse.
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Editor:
Dmitry Yegorov

Cover and illustrations:
Julia Chistyakova

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