A GEARVR NEWS SUGGESTION ARTICLE
Last night I was on vTime for an hour having some really great conversations. First I was a Tour Guide for 5 new vTime users (not all at once, in total). I showed them around vTime’s many cool locales, helping them understand its cool features and explore its future possibilities. And during this time, I started noticing some things that I feel Starship (the Devs behind vTime) should be working on in the very near future. Specifically because these things negatively impact vTime’s main function: its chat experience.
While the chat experience is quite amazing and offers so much value and inspires such fun conversations, when the chat is over is where the issues begin. When users leave chat, it is a bit of a mess right now. They take off their headset and you see their avatar’s head list over 90 degrees (or backwards so) and it looks as if they’ve died. They don’t move, they don’t speak, their necks look broken: that all creates a stigma that they’ve died.
That’s just bit unsettling and counter-productive to the great experience vTime offers, one which is light years ahead of its competition at this point. Subconsciously you know your friends only left VR, but it still looks wrong to the Presence and immersion inside the world. It’s not the right vibe, since with all three spots occupied by corpses, it can make you feel upset, at least deep down.
Moreover, the vTime Server does not know when people leave chat for up to 5 minutes. I’ve gotten trapped in locales with three lifeless corpses with their broken necks, all of them still sitting around me like an episode of the Walking Dead. I couldn’t get rid of them or do anything about it … short of leaving vTime myself. That’s not a good image to give people who are loyal and want to stick around and wait for the next patrons to come by for a chat.
SUGGESTION #1: Exit Animations
When we are going to leave vTime on purpose and have said our goodbyes to the people we’ve shared time with, we need to let the vTime Servers know we are logging off. Instead of just pulling the HDM off our head, ripping the phone out of the USB cradle loudly and jerking our headphone cord out (which all of these everyone can hear you doing by the way), vTime needs a new feature called “Say Goodbye“.
When we activate this feature, it first sends an emote animation of us waving goodbye to everyone. Just a half-second wave each toward everyone’s face to personally let them know we appreciated them. The look at each person then activates that person’s “instance response” wave back. So not only do they say goodbye, but we wave back too. The person’s avatar’s arms then raise up toward the Heavens as their avatar turns to stars and de-rezzes upward out of the location. vTime then turns off their microphone. Then it hard-disconnects the user from vTime’s Servers. The process should take about 8 seconds, no more. Over and done, freeing up those seats, and not letting the body stay behind dead and lifeless. Not letting us hear their private conversations for several seconds after they think they’ve left the room, or hear the weird phone noises of someone finally un-jacking their phone from their GearVR .
These are just the wrong things to see and hear. It’s a kind of death. And it’s a kind of privacy violation that we didn’t intend to be a part of. We need to see them leave gracefully, still alive and well, and then not be able to hear them anymore after that. vTime has at least something like this for when people load in, their avatar gets constructed by energy rings. But they have nothing for when we leave. Starship, I hope you will please correct this in version 1.7 or 1.8 if you can.
In addition how this looks, just having those seats taken up with dead bodies can make it impossible for the Host to add anyone else in. So you basically have to just sit there alone waiting for up to 5 minutes. Many people would simply leave rather than wait, and vTime would lose these people for other vTime patrons to chat with. The more alive the Network at all times, the more people will return to enjoy it, confident others are there waiting to greet them. Starship needs to find some interesting new ways to convince us to stick around and wait for more people to arrive.
Perhaps Starship could create several possible things to do in the near term that could let people burn off five minutes alone while waiting for others to join them. Here are some of my ideas…
SUGGESTION #2: 5-Minute “Quick Activities”
- Create a vTime Survey that lets Starship quiz patrons (willing to try it) on what things we’d like to see in vTime. We start the Survey, vTime begins asking us Yes or No questions from a vTime questionnaire database. The database can grow at any time to provide more new questions. The questions are randomly selected but once we’ve entered an answer, we cannot get that question again. When someone arrives to chat with, the Survey ends but later if we lose our chat buddies, the Survey will continue from where it left off. If we think we made a mistake on our last question, there’s a “last question do over” link below each question. It will let us re-answer the previous question if we made a mistake. We can end the Survey at any time also.
- Create vTime Fact Cards for each of the locations we’re sitting in that we can look at while waiting. The cards float just below the horizon line in front of us. They have nice photos on the top of each card, and the bottom half has some very readable text factoids that might be interesting to discover. Say … at the Cliff Scene, you can tell us the name of the mountain, its height, our elevation above ground… just the basic facts about it. If we’re in the Arctic Expedition, facts about Antarctica, bears, dolphins, whales, the kind of boat we see sitting out there that supposedly brought us here. Give us at least 25 Fact Cards for each location. During the Fact Card session, play some serene music to study each card to for ambiance. Let there be a peaceful, meditative experience while we wait for others to come and chat with us.
- vTime News Articles. We tell vTime which kinds of news we enjoy most in the our default Settings menu. If we start a Newspaper while waiting alone, a kind of 3D Newspaper is generated in front of us. On it are some articles (matched to our interests) which vTime has linked to its servers and can display for us to read. So we could sit and read some news articles about things that interest us while waiting for others to come and engage us. And since we just read something appealing to our interests, we now have a conversation piece for people who are coming in, something to share with them if they seem interested to hear it.
S U M M A R Y
vTime offers a great chatting experience, but its post-chat properties are still a bit coarse and in need of a quick spit shine. Don’t let us see our new friends slump over and die when a cool particle show of them ascending toward Heaven in streams of light would be so much more cheerful. And don’t let us sit there alone with nothing to do, which encourages us to log off and quit vTime, when you could offer some activities that would help you to hold onto us a little longer and keep the magic going.
When we are alone, invite us to do one of those activities listed above (or some of your own ideas), but definitely give us something fresh to do for at least 5 minutes each day. Help keep us in vTime longer with every Session. Because our presence in your app IS the core of your business, if you do something to hold onto us a bit longer, then you’ll grow your business model in the process.
There are two Main Ways to grow your company: Get more users (which isn’t easy for GearVR in these early days), or encourage the users you already have to use vTime more. The latter option, Starship, is the one you definitely have more control over now. So I would say … run with that.
If you want to read my Full-Featured article on vTime, CLICK HERE!