vTime Exclusive Review

A GEARVR EXCLUSIVE REVIEW

“The Right Time … for vTime”

by VRift720


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INTRODUCTION:

      I’ve been gaming since I was a kid and have never been able to let go of the wonder that comes from digital escapism.  Where other kids saw wonder in the stars or in the chemical composition of seawater, my feelings of sheer majesty for the PIXEL captivated me from the first utterance of the magical name “Atari” … right up to the present day.  

      I first owned a TRS-80 (it’s best game: Dungeons of Daggoroth) and later an all-white Commodore 128 (it’s best game: Elite), then on to Amiga (with too many “best” games to list here).  I was faithful, refusing to leave my Amiga (literally Spanish for girlfriend) until I literally HAD TO … due to wear and tear. 

      Luckily, by then the PC was nearly as good … but it still was not able to multi-task effectively, unlike Amiga which continued to outperform everything that came after it for years.  And during all these long years, every time something new came out, I noticed something happening.  A cycle happening in the games industry. 

      It happened every time, with every new console and every new system from 3DO to PlayStation …  from Sega to Xbox.   And what I’ve noticed is that there is always one development company that rises to the top, like the molten cream on an A&W Root-Beer float, dominating the market for that device.  (Psygnosis. Chris Robert’s Games. Origin. Electronic Arts. Crystal Dynamics. Bethesda. Rockstar.) 

      But in these VR early days with GearVR, I believe the company that’s showing the most signs of becoming the top-dog are the Liverpool-based developers known … as Starship.  And that’s what makes this moment in time … just the right time … for vTime!

vTIME_Staff

       This is one app whose features ARE the topic of conversation. The awe one feels here conveys the need to discuss the very app itself and how wondrous it is.  You don’t even have try to think of what to talk about. It’s too easy! 

      This app is so important of a first step toward social clustering in VR, that I believe it could become the “Facebook of VR” … as long as this keeps evolving. And vTime doesn’t require GearVR, either, it’s a Cross-Platform independent application.  Anyone can meet anyone here who has any type of VR. Starship is just so brilliant.

      Moreover, almost as if validating the long-held theory of mine with more proof, Starship has racked up an incredible list of credits and awards … which shows that many others are noticing them, too:

  • 2015:  Recognized at the International Development Awards for “Playworld” as “Best New IP”.
  • 2015: “Best New Studio” Award.
  • 2015:  “Rising Stars” Award at the UK’s most-coveted “Northern Tech Awards”.
  • 2015:  One of Europe’s Top Tech Start Ups in Metro, alongside Raspberry Pi, SkyTracker, and SoundCloud.

    vtime-Times-Square

      On this cyber frontier in the trenches with GearVR, Starship has already released two incredible apps:  first, an amazing cooking-simulation game demo (CyberCook Taster –>reviewed HERE) and second, a social-chat-program vTime, which is described on their own website as:

“… the first truly ‘sociable’ network on mobile VR. Unlike conventional social networks, where you spend time mostly with your PC, tablet or phone, vTime is about spending that precious time with your family and friends.” Martin Kenwright, Starship CEO.

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      The idea with vTime is that because you have an avatar (a digital-polygon representation of your physical self) and a beautiful stereoscopic environment to converse within (and feel part of), plus because your avatar has natural talking gestures and eye-blinks as you talk, you don’t feel disconnected like you do when holding a phone to your ear.  You can literally see your mother, your sister, your friends, your wife, all sitting next to you together in one place. 

      You can hear their real voices where their avatars are sitting due to the built-in positional audio, and all of these factors combine to form what’s known as Social Presence: the feeling you are interacting with real people. 

      You are transported into a situation where your mind begins to accept the chat world as real and you come away from that experience with a vastly different take on the conversations you’re having.  They feel way more genuine, and deeply satisfying the way emails and texts can never be.  They feel authentic.  It all feels … truly lovely!

vTIME_Lobby    HOW IT WORKS:

      You first load into the “Agora” lobby, shown above, a picturesque gecko-roman environment with soothingly-meditative music in the background lulling you further into this fantastic world you’ve entered. 

      vTime then asks you to sign up using an existing email address.  Once you’re through that and validated, you can log in.  Once logged in, the system remembers you and you don’t have to go through the process of signing in again. 

      You then begin the next step:  Creating your Avatar.

vTIME_Clothing

      In this part, you assign style choices to your avatar, from hair and eye coloring to shoe type, skin tone, shirt/skirt design, any glasswear, and whether (as a man) you have a beard or a mustache.  Once you’re satisfied with your avatar self, you’ll take a picture of yourself as you look now (and you really do have to pose!)  Whatever posture you take on, that posture is captured and represents you.  If you stick your face up too high, you’ll look like an arrogant jerk.  Too low, you come off depressed. 

      There really is an art to taking your photo.  Once you get that perfect look, this is the photo shown on the Network Map which represents you when trying to join groups.  If you look like some snooty prude, you may get rejected by the host.  So do try to take a normal photo if you can. 

      Next, you will need to open yourself up to being approached for conversation on the Connections screen if you wish to chat.  Open Connections and then …

      There are two ways you can activate chat mode, you can just click “Random Match” at the top of the screen (next to the purple icon at the top right), or you can look at your avatar’s photo until the progress bar completes and then choose “Random Match“.  Once you do that, you’re all set. 

      People can now approach you for chat no matter where you roam about in vTime.  You will get a pop up saying “So and So wishes to chat, do you accept?  YES NO?”  You just look at what you want to choose and it’s done.

NETWORKING:

      Paul Hollywood (shown in the photo above) is vTime’s Product Development Director.  He regularly joins chat sessions to ask everyone how everything’s going and whether us fans have any questions to ask.  You can see him there hosting a group of people (in the photo below). 

vTIME_Network.jpg

      What you are looking at is the Network Map that you are a part of in vTime.  Your icon is the biggest one and as people join you, they link to you until you have three others surrounding your icon.  There are many options here, such as “Add as Friend” or “Invite” or even “Join” if you wish to go into a group yourself. 

      The amount of social choices offered is what makes vTime shine over many of its competitors like Oculus Social, where you can’t even save the people you’ve chatted with as friends!  You talk with someone for an hour in Oculus Social and then you just lose them … forever.  It’s absurd! 

      With so many other famous apps like AltSpaceVR, CONVRGE, and Oculus Social in the social arena, you’d think VR chat would be anyone’s game.  But you’d be wrong.  What sets vTime apart is that is has so many robust features … while not being bogged down as much as the other systems. 

      AltSpaceVR is one social app that suffers from bloat, but it’s also a lot newer to the scene, too.  Currently, it takes too many clicks to get to anything you want to do.  Its unwieldy at times, while vTime just makes sense. 

      vTime might have been a tad too slow to respond to look gazes in the early days, but recently they added “click to accept” Touchpad interaction on all previous look-gaze-only items.  And man, what a difference that made for those who wish to proceed forward quickly.  A nice touch.

      The philosophy behind vTime is that every design decision has an intelligent purpose.  The current look-gaze system would be vTime’s initial defacto interaction method for vTime at launch.  No Trackpad clicks or game pads would be needed, you’d just look to make things happen. 

      Later, as other new VR Joysticks come into the fold, like positionally-tracked hand sensors, vTime would scale up, adding the ability to do your own gesturing (instead of using the simulated gesturing system that’s in place now).  Simulated or not, the gestures in place right now still add and air of realism to the body language that helps feel the conversations more.  And I wouldn’t go back now to something without them. 

      Oculus Social only has these disembodied floating silly robot, bear, and cowboy heads … so yeah, vTime’s full avatars have ruined Oculus Social for me.

      Another cool thing is, if you are the host and you change Destinations, your entire group goes along with you. You don’t leave anyone behind. So when you see the new locations together and are all “WOW!”-ing at the same time, you get stirred up emotionally. 

      Listening to everyone giggle and enjoy their lives in that instant, you have to be thankful to vTime for crafting such an experience, one that Oculus itself should be paying attention to. Starship really know how to make an impact and that turns into a social enjoyment shared, an impact shared across many lives in one instant.

      Me and a nice lady were laughing about our fear of heights while dangling our feet over the 2000 foot drop below. It was unbelievably cool. We had no words, just laughing and pointing at a bird that grazed by us on the ledge and INSTANTLY CONNECTED with each other, bonded. Just like that. You can’t pay enough for these kinds of feelings, not ever, which is why I find this app being free truly a marvel.

        Now that you understand better how the Networking works, you can now go and take a look at the many wonderful environments offered by vTime.  This is truly where the app comes to life.  The graphics in the environments here are far superior to anything that’s offered elsewhere, and indeed vTime is one of the most stereoscopic 3D apps offered for the GearVR to date. 

      Look up at a 45-degree angle until that little globe appears and turns into a Choice Wheel.  Look around the left side of this wheel for “Destinations” and you will see a screen that looks like this:

vTIME_Destinations

      These images are your available Destinations.  vTime began for GearVR already set up with eight amazingly-detailed environments unlike anything ever seen on GearVR:

  1. The Agora (Gecko-Roman Meditative Lobby)
  2. Around the Cave Fire (Yosemite Valley Next to the River #5 below)
  3. Under the Stars (Camping)
  4. On the Edge (Yosemite Valley)
  5. Wilderness River (Yosemite Valley)
  6. 360-degree Tour of Liverpool (Where the Company is From)
  7. Paradise Resort (Beach)
  8. Orbital (ISS Space Station)

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Camp Fire (Under the Stars)

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On the Edge (Yosemite Valley)

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On the Edge (Yosemite Valley)

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Wilderness River (Yosemite Valley)

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Around the Cave Fire (In the Cave)


GRAPHICS:

      After seeing the wonderful stereoscopic locations, vTime quickly began to be my defacto software to load up to show my friends what real VR feels like.  I would sit in vTime for hours … alone … just meditating and thinking; however, this required strapping a fan to my S6 in order to pull it off. 

      The app is quite CPU intensive and tends to overheat because Starship threw everything in but the kitchen sink to get graphics this good.  In a video on YouTube, Paul Hollywood explains that the way they get these graphics is that they first build them entirely as full 3D environments in the computer.  This allows them to then bake a sky box for GearVR, where the majority of it is now 2D … way off in the distance. 

      Next, they build a foreground layer of actual 3D geometry that is thick enough to hide the seams of that 2D backdrop.  The two layers work together to create the illusion of a much richer, larger world that few other apps can pull off.  And because the world is actually built in full detail in a rendering engine, they can port a much-more-approximated version of the entire scene over to the PC.  For the “Oculus Rift” Version!

      That means if you join vTime from your PC, the graphics will be a heck of a lot better than they already are!  vTime is cool that way, it’s platform independent, it can literally go anywhere and scale up or down to any interface or CPU restrictions. 

      And that means as VR continues to grow, vTime will be still be around even if some of the devices it gets made for eventually pass away with time.  This is the essence of good software development and future planning.  It means that we can rely on the community we’re a part of in vTime.  It’s always going to be there.

“CHILLED” UPDATE:

      After months of looking at these eight places however good they are, I was just starting to grow weary of them.  But thankfully, in a recent update as of January 31st, vTime converted to “Chilled” mode (its Winter Theme), converting two existing locations over to Winter… while also adding two new locales to its already-great lineup!  The two new ones are:

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Arctic Expedition (Ice-Burgh Camping)

      … and an Executive Jet locale.  This new “Chilled” update also added some new features.  It now allows the Host to “change seats” if there is one empty, but you cannot move another player over and sit in their seat (I tried, wink!

      Now some of the main gripes (“I can’t find/can’t see anyone’s name!”) are rectified with name prompts showing up when new people log on and other various times that make sense.  A clock has been added to the Main Menu.  And it seems a few nasty bugs have worked their way in to this patch, sadly.  I’m sure they’ll be fixed soon as Starship isn’t one to let bad things linger very long.  They are always refining and updating their software and taking suggestions from their fans. 

      For instance, in a post a while ago when vTime was asking for location ideas, I suggested that vTime add a “Northern Lights Camp” (and I quote:)

      “It is the Arctic and the Northern Lights are overhead.  It’s a dark night with every star ever made visible, wondrous. The Aurora Borealis is going on overhead.  The snow below is colored (painted) by the Northern Lights and a campfire you’ve built near a spot of ice fishing as your camp is at the edge of a lake filled with ice burghs. 

      There is a tent nearby, the light from the fire glows on the inside but the backside is lit by the Northern Lights. A polar bear is leading its cub down a mountain far in the distance. It looks like it’s beginning to snow way off, but most of the sky above us is crystal clear.

      “We can actually hear the Northern Lights, a kind of buzzing noise way up above us.  It’s totally serene here, a place of perfect beauty and peace.”  FROM MY REDDIT POST.

      Then when I saw this patch there was this new Ice Expedition locale.  I loaded it up, heart beating, and then just sat there laughing at the walls of my apartment, thrilled they had taken the time to listen and craft my dream! 

      Here it was, so close to idea I had envisioned!  In my dream, the mood was a tad darker than their idea so you could see the Northern Lights a bit more vividly (contrasting).  And there was a roaring fire near the ice hole that bathed the snow around you in fiery orange, but hey, they got most of it spot on and no one can get everything they want in life. 

      It’s close enough that I literally fell out of my chair with delight.  I felt appreciated by a big company; its a real compliment to have my idea be implemented in such a fun and exciting application such as this.

      The next new locale is the Executive Jet shown here:

vTIME_Executive Jet.jpg

      This location is not as interesting a one as I’d hoped for, like with Arctic  Expedition.  For one thing, there just aren’t as many things to look at as the other locations have. 

      Some locations have animations, or creatures moving around, although I’m not suggesting “snakes on a plane” by any means!  Maybe the windows could be a bigger and then they could have weather formations forming out there: sunny days, rainy days, cloud cover, storms, and other climate changes from time to time, something different every time.  Maybe there could be another plane flying along the same route for a while, or an Airforce jet fly by (loudly, drawing our attention).  A UFO could even vaguely be spotted (rarely) if they wanted to get cheeky.  They are British, after all, being cheeky is allowed. 

      But my real idea for this space is to use it for the up-coming movie showcase features vTime is adding.   These will allow us to upload videos and photos and share them in a kind of Slideshow for a direct audience of three.  Here are my Executive Jet suggestions:

      “I think the Jet needs to be used for the Video Player location.  A projector should be added/mounted overhead.  Then, about 4 feet toward where pilots sit, a mechanical screen can roll down for the projector to show movies.  The Host clicks a button the others can’t see, and this unfolds with great mechanical fanfare. 

      “When a movie begins, it turns dark outside within 1 minute. But another issue is that this environment is too smooth for a Jet.  It needs to get a few shakes now and again to remind you it’s a real Jet flying through stormy skies.  It happens. Not often, but it always happens at least some. So turbulence would be a requirement for that environment.”  — FROM MY POST. 

      FUTURE FEATURES:

      Back again onto the subject of movies and photo sharing, I recently met Paul Hollywood again during a quick jaunt where he’d just stopped by to share the news about the new features coming soon.  Here (below) is an example where they tested the video features in an (as of yet unseen) Executive-Jet Conference-Room environment:

vTIME_Photo6.jpg

      There is obviously some way to play videos in this Executive-Jet locale that is in a different room.  There are even some holograms going on there.  Not sure what they are thinking about there, but this image is pretty fascinating. 

      One could speculate about it at length, but I prefer to wait and see what they’ve got … when they’ve finally got it.  But as far as photos, here’s another interesting image to dissect:

vTIME_PhotoSharing

      There appears to be some mechanism planned here for future versions of vTime where you can all sit in a gallery of some kind and view each others’ photographs.  Again, this is really so fascinating!

      I look forward to all the interesting ways these features could be used, such as for teaching.  Instead of uploading photos of yourself, you could upload photos of lesson plans, notes, and other things that you want to teach.  Or to display little bits of text you want your students to read aloud if you’re training them in other languages. 

      Maybe I could even finally get to do that VR Seminar I’ve been wanting to do … IN VR!  Wow, talk about iterations within iterations!

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On a Boat (a discarded locale idea)

 


SUGGESTIONS FOR STARSHIP:

      As incredible as this app already is, there are some ideas I’ve had about it that I feel would really improve the fun factor for this experience, as well as give vTime users more ways to interact beyond just sitting and talking. 

      The problem with chatting is that it gets old too fast, people need things to do together that keeps them coming back like an addiction.  Activities, or other uses beyond the initial design, offer replay value that will help grow the community of vTime and ensure a golden future.  These are some suggestions, written over a period of three months … as vTime has been my most favorite application for GearVR. 

      My favorite experience is Ocean Rift, as seen by my recent 10-star rated review HERE, but vTime is the next one in line to get our highest rating.  The good that it has offered the VR community is immeasurable, but do keep in mind that these ideas are just ways to hopefully one day improve vTime even more and always keep people coming back for more:

  1. LOCATION – AGORA:  the background images are too low resolution to compete with the foreground 3D visuals.  I suggest adding all the real geometry for at least another 20 feet back, then go to 2D imagery because by then, the 3D stereoscopy will be lost.  But where you have the 2D plane set now, it’s way too noticeable as imagery.  The illusion is broken.  This peaceful place would also be perfect to host Chess games or play a board game of some sort.

  • LOCATION – CAVE FIRE: Put the defacto starting seat to the opposite side, because that offers the greatest view of the cave and outdoor part.  You want as many people as possible enjoying that view, not the one we have now, staring at the back of the wall.  Let us also poke the fire with a stick to make embers fly up.


  • LOCATION – ON THE EDGE:  Bring back the low-hanging clouds and former view, it was pure magic, the new perspective is not as good, and the clouds (now removed) added way more depth.  Let us use binoculars to zoom in on this view, but when we do, don’t use the current 2D map, load an actual zoomed in map that’s 10 times closer, so we have new things to look at, or look for.  In this way, the environment could become the topic of conversation as people find things to share with one another about the cool things seen in the binoculars.

  • LOCATION – PARADISE RESORTThe beach location is not as interesting as it could be because we’re too far from the ocean, which would be meditative to sit and watch.  I suggest moving the users into the water, in floating pool chairs, so we can see the ocean swelling around and below us.  Add a few dolphins and an occasional shark swimming around us to make it creepier.  The water should be wavy, so the four of us are always rising and falling as we talk.  We can still see the beach and Pelican from where we are, near the shoreline.  The seats are tethered to a single anchor.  We can skip rocks along the shoreline.


  • LOCATION – WILDERNESS RIVER Let us do some actual fishing while we talk.  If we catch some fish at the river, and then change Destinations to UNDER THE STARS (the campground) right after that, let the fish we just caught be sitting in a bucket of ice near a cleaning table with knives on it under that tree with the owl in it.  Maybe that owl will steal one of our fish before it swoops off, the dirty scoundrel!?   If we switch to the CAVE FIRE next instead, give us some clues that what’s in the pot is fish stew such as the fish carcasses disposed of in a puddle further inside the cave.

  • LOCATION – ORBITAL (ISS)We need space suits to be sitting out there … in space. Without that, it feels wrong and my brain refuses to accept it.  Therefore, I can’t enjoy this locale at all.  Plus, it would be even more immersive to run our speech through a sound modifier to make it sound modulated like “space helmet” speech does.  These two suggestions would just make this location go from being one of the worst to one of the best. 

  • LOCATION – EXECUTIVE JET:  This location feels too thin to compete with the greatness of the other locations.  There are almost no animations and no creatures.  What about having a dog or two running around or cuddled up sleeping at our feet?  Or some cats sitting next to us, purring, that we can pet using a petting emote of some kind?  Also, as mentioned early in the article, what about turning this location into a video viewing location by installing a projector and a roll-down mechanical screen?  The host then loads his videos and can play them for his audience.  Meanwhile, maybe outside the ship there are some novelty sights to behold in the form of passing aircraft, or UFO’s, or storm-clouds with lightening.  Also this locale needs turbulence from time to time, no flight is this smooth, not ever.


  • POINTS OF INTEREST:  How about a few points of interest built into every scene where we can look and see a sparkle of light on something?  And if we look-gaze there, then our character suddenly lift his/her arm to point at that spot with their finger.  So for example, what would be natural in the river scene is to point at the rams in the forest, or the bird landing on the rock.  If we stare at the bird long enough to activate it, our character will point at the bird. That way we can say, “hey look at that bird” with our arm jutting out, finger aimed at the bird.  You could add tons of POI around each scene, like the waterfall in the cave scene. “Hey, that waterfall is so lovely” and we’re pointing at it when we say this. Or “Hey, don’t fall off, that’s a looong way down” while pointing at the ground way down below us. Points of Interest to actually point at while we’re talking.

  • BINOCULARS FOR SIGHTSEEING:  What about having binoculars and we lift them to our face somehow.  And you have an extra layer of images zoomed in way closer, so we can for example, look down off the cliff wall at the terrain below, or the mountain across the way, and we aren’t zooming in the on the current sky box image, but a whole new image zoomed in through a binocular stencil.  So we could literally see way more up-close details of the terrain in the outdoor parts. For example, if we look at the waterfall, it’s a entirely new view of the waterfall from 10 times closer, so we can see all-new details, the bird flying around it, etc… Or if we look down at the ground, we can see it from 10 times closer. That means the outdoor locations would have multiple texture sets to allow for using binoculars. That would give us something to do. Literally look around at the entire scene in way more detail using binoculars, and then talk about it with those chatting with us.

  • BATMAN-CITY BILLBOARD TV:  Imagine sitting on the ledge of a tall building overlooking a NY-style city like Batman often does.  And straight across from you is one of those huge sky billboard TV’s that are like 50 feet wide. Not only can you look down and see the ground 500 feet below, you can watch your videos sitting there. Birds fly by, a drone someone is piloting spins up in your face briefly and then flits off like a humming bird. It’s just turning night time, the stars are visible, and the city streets are filled with lights. Your Youtube videos, Hulu, and Netflix all play on the screen across from you… three people can join you and watch something together.   This one would be very moody and atmospheric.

  • CYBERCOOK TASTER INTEGRATION:  Nothing would be cooler than being able to cook together with friends and family when you can’t do it for real!  Starship made both Cybercook and vTime!  So this IS possible!  The four of you could share duties (playing the mini-games) while chatting up a storm.  Then the chef would attempt to pull off a perfect dish, getting their cook on, while others set the table.  Maybe there would be multiple dishes, everyone would take a turn cooking something, with the others shifting duties, from scrubbing the vegetables to slicing the meats.  In the end, everyone moves to the Dining Room (with a nice view of the city) and sits down to a full table that everyone took part in creating.  Their avatars eat the food and rate the food based on a deep food-profiling system for their avatars.  vTime knows when the Full Cybercook Taster app is installed and has a way to merge them.  You can load the High-Rise Apartment locale (with full kitchen and dining room) and interact with the cooking simulation while your four avatars move around, chat, and help each other out.  This would give everyone something to do.  And then your avatars score the food through interesting text-based dialogue options which pop up after you’ve sampled a dish with a few bites.  You get an overall score stamped onto the screen for the dish you cooked, based on everyone’s input, and the scene fades to black and you end up back in the Agora lobby.  So cool!

  • CLOTHING OPTIONS: Let us select clothing options for avatars based on whichever scene we are in. We can save one set of clothing that automatically loads upon entering the environments vTime has set up. If we are in space, we have an astronaut spacesuit with helmet and modulated voices that sound a little tinny (“enclosed in a helmet” tinny).  If we are on the beach, we can wear shorts and a tank top or bikinis for girls.  If we are on the ledge, we may want a wind breaker and woolly hat of some kind. There could be one clothing line default for each environment available in vTime, and the moment we load a new environment, our clothing defaults for that space are automatically applied before the screen fades in.  However, we don’t just get all of these clothes for free. We have to work for them.  By joining or hosting groups and talking with people for at least 15 minutes.  Then we get some vTime coins (maybe called “$TASH” cash, ie: stash cash).  We can purchase one new set of clothes for each area once we’ve obtained enough vTime currency for chatting with people to unlock one new environment.  Once you unlock that environment, you can get one full set of clothes for it at a certain level.  The more time you spend chatting with others in that Destination, the more $TASH you build up.   Then you can upgrade your default-level clothes with more glamorous ones.  Add a watch.  Add custom jewelry.  Get some bling.  Start to make your avatar stand out as someone who … actually spends time in vTime.  And you will be able to say cool things like “I have a nice $tash!”  Plus, this vTime currency would allow us to also perfect the next idea, too, which is:

  • CARD-GAMES ROOM:  You can join one of up to three different games of cards (the three most popular), with 4 people to a table, in some lush Speak-Easy (for adults, so a credit card is needed to authenticate).  The environment is one of bawdy women and jazz music, with Hollywood neon-lights all around and an actual band playing 3-4 songs on stage behind you.  In the outside rooms, pool tables where the balls are heard smacking in the background through the walls as ruffians joke, laugh, and smart off to each other (unintelligibly from this far away, but still there).  This here is the private back room, its dark and a little sexy too.  You play your cards and your avatars can smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and drink booze (if you have a $tash!). You get credit chips automatically for joining groups and talking with the people there for at least 15 minutes.  These chips are your $TASH.  (ie: stash).  You can use them for betting in the Card Room.  The chips are actually used to buy better clothes for your avatar.  So you have something to lose if you bet them.  And something to gain by betting them!  So now clothing will become one form of commerce in vTime.  (Starship is heavily invested in creating clothing anyway, as one of their other ideas involve creating an online clothes-shopping store for VR.)  So this would help you kill two birds with one stone.  This kind of idea would create a risk-reward aspect that will always help to draw the crowds back for more vTime.  It’s win win for all.

  •  FRIENDS SHINE ONLINE:  Currently, vTime’s Connections system doesn’t offer enough confidence that we know what’s going on here.  It’s hard to tell when someone is online.  It always looks like everyone you are seeing is online with you, but that’s not true.  The app shows you all of your friends whether they’re online or not.  Its really confusing at the moment.  Why not turn off color to all avatar photos who are offline?  And save the color for those people only Online?  That would let us know who is and who isn’t online instantly.  I also want to suggest letting your app remember how many times we’ve connected with a particular friend. And then assign an amount of radiance to each friend based on the number of connections made in the past. That way, our best friends would glow like the sun when they come online. But those you’ve only chatted with once would have a colored photo but no glow around their token. People you’ve chatted with a few times might have a tiny glow. But those you meet often would glow a lot more. That way, at a glance, you can tell the status of your friendships in vTime.  It’s easy to remember who you’ve spent more time with, because they shine brighter than the others.  And think of how fun it would feel to come online and find 3-4 of your best friends all at once. The glow from 4 friends surrounding you would make your whole screen come alive with fiery light. It would seem like a happy moment that you can give merely by adding 0-255 luminescence to tokens based on how many connections you’ve made to each person.  After 255 visits, it can’t get any brighter obviously. The number of visits IS the radiance level in your coding (IE A=0, A=A+1 per visit, max 256 levels (0-255)). So that’s easy, right? 

  • SEND TEXT MESSAGES FROM vTIME:  vTime could get the power to take text messages from phones, or maybe some messages from the most common chatting apps in the world, and when you’re in vTime, an owl can fly down to you and drop a letter in your lap (or in the river, a waterproof floating bag) or in your tent (interacting with the environment in some way).  If it’s your message, you can see the owl, but the others can’t. You can open the message and read it from inside vTime.  So you can be connected to your friends when you are in VR and they’re not. You can turn off “incoming messages” mode at any time in case the messages are annoying you. You can even make the app wait and aggregate them over a period of 30 minutes and then deliver the whole group of messages at once as a letter.  You could reply automatically with “I’m in vTime now, I can’t really chat at the moment … but will get back to you in about an hour.”  So you can interact with the outside world (still chatting and messaging) from within vTime.  No one sees your owls, so no one knows the messages you are getting, they’re private.  Just in case that would bother anyone. But if you are alone in vTime, it might be nice to still be connected to your other chat programs in some way. The one Chinese people use the most, for example, is WeiXin which means “We Chat” also its English name.  It supports audio messages.  You could possible set it up so no typing is required by allowing the phone to record a voice message and get another owl to come and take it away inside vTime. You literally see your little audio tape in a waterproof bag being taken out of the river by an owl and flown over the hill (presumably to your WeChat friend you are sending it to). And her reply would get flown back to you. Never have to leave vTime. Wouldn’t that be something?  This would also allow vTime to find another ways to communicate between its own users.

Here’s a funny reply from Starship itself regarding the last idea: 

You had us at ‘an owl can swoop down at you to drop a letter in your lap’! Amazing idea!” 


TEACHING IN vTIME:

      My Final Suggestion (for now) is about something that I see as absolutely essential for the growth of a chatting program as diverse and powerful vTime.  This could really grow a whole new industry, and allow vTime to become a source of income for thousands of people, who themselves would invest in vTime and GearVR by buying the phones, the HMD, and then use vTime to work from home. 

      People with poor mobility could begin to use VR as another way to make ends meet, and vTime already has everything in place to make this work.  All it needs another new environment and a way to send money to users and take money from users (via micro-transactions) which would incentivize Oculus to get that system completed so smart people could use vTime to work from home. 

      This would also help vTime become the dominant social player for pretty much forever in cyberspace, the most coveted position for any company to hold in this digital future springing up around us.  The idea is this:  let vTime be a host force for teachers and students.

      vTime could offer that right now by simply creating a school environment with a podium next to a whiteboard (or chalkboard if you prefer) and three full-sized desks for up to three students to sit at.  There would be an iPad on the desk and a voice dictation machine. 

      They could record audio snippets if they wanted to, which get saved in their phone’s Recordings as usual.  It’s tied right into the default Android App.  The students can tell vTime (in the vTime Settings Menu) where the pdf they wish to use for that language-training session is on their phone.  It then appears on the iPad. 

      So, you could literally be following along in the presentation by scrolling your in-app VR iPad. Your Virtual iPad, hahaha.  All this while talking with a native speaker of their chosen language.

      The teacher would get paid for hosting the class, for which the students would pre-pledge $15 for 60 minutes.  vTime takes it out first, to ensure it’s there, and holds it in an escrow account.  After 20 minutes, if the students are still in the session, the money is automatically deducted.  If they leave, the money is sent back to the student who left early. 

      That means a full class would net a potential teacher $45 per hour to teach!  Nice!  But, of course, this means the teacher has to demonstrate his prowess, charm, and talent for teaching inside that 20 minutes, or else the students can bail.  For the first four times, the teacher would not be demoted for this, as this offers him/her the chance to improve and perfect their skills before losing value. 

      You only lose value if you continue to see more students dropping your classes, which in effect hurts to ecosystem by losing money for vTime as the escrow, who would probably earn 5% on all successful transactions at least.  It’s just another possibility that something like vTime offers in VR that would offer a much more lively, plausible, and safe meeting place to interact with real people. 

      This would encourage learning much more than any other courses out there!  The price of gas and the time to drive anywhere is getting higher every year, so VR offers a chance to cut those costs and save time to boot!

vTime Final

FINAL THOUGHTS:

      Starship is one friendly high-value company with a ton to offer the future of social networking and the entire VR community.  The more work they do, the better VR seems to get for everyone.  I realize this article is long, but I really can’t say enough about this company and what they’ve done for me personally. 

      I live pretty-much alone in China where it’s hard for me to make close friends due to the language barrier.  And for once, I can leave my apartment, as nice as it is, and voyage out to these wondrous locations, meet new people who speak English and have some insane laughs and really feel connected again. 

      I might be from America, but I have never seen Yosemite in person, to my regret. What a lovely place in the world, and I lived so close to it for so long, too. 

      This app helped me rectify that issue, at least in part, but also visit places I’ll never be able to go, like the International Space Station or the Arctic.  With new updates coming every few months, Starship has promised to keep vTime interesting and is committed to helping it grow.  The company listens to its users, takes all of our suggestions, and does what it can to add them when possible. 

      Their team is small, only ten people to create so much, so it might take a little time to pull everything we’re asking for off.  But for something this good, we’d better just have the time to wait. 

      There couldn’t be a better time to go all out on Social Networking, either!  Which is why this is not only the right time … but the best time … for vTime!


This app doesn’t allow movement currently, so there is no sense of any motion sickness.  I rate this as … comfortable for all.

vTIME_FINALSCORE

vTime is the second mobile VR app to get the GearVR News “Award for Excellence!”

CONGRATULATIONS!


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