By Lucas Seamanduras, from NFTecnologica | nftecnologica.tez
The concept of Metaverse has been around for many years. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992 in the novel “Snow Crash”, with pretty much the same meaning we give it today: a virtual environment to dive in and interact with others. Since then movies like Matrix and Read Player One, or virtual worlds like Roblox have scaled its possibilities: from a fiction concept to an actual world about to get built.
But in many instances, the existent metaverses (if one agrees they are, indeed, metaverses), while claiming to be new, repeat many of the ill traits of previous worlds: land speculation, exclusivity, inequality. In a similar fashion to nft marketplaces replicating exclusivity practices, metaverses were also bringing old baggage to new lands.
Here comes Hic et Nunc. On May 22nd of 2021 the hicathon, a community effort to expand the HEN marketplace began, including the building of the metaverse under the wing of Working Group 6-1 and member xrealityportal lead. Concepts quickly started flying around and the frenzy to build the new immersive frontier began. Here we have a little breakdown of their work, and the journey of their craft.
The theme chosen for worldbuilding is that of planets: a planet to craft awaits every owner of a tezos wallet; no more, no less. Inside the world there will be three types of assets: basic, which are available for everyone to build their desired ambient (floor surface, plants, furniture, and things not yet thought) and personal, be it own-made objects or commissioned; both basic and personal assets would be specialOBJKTs due to their embeddedness with the metaverse; and objkts, which would be the pieces purchased from HEN itself.
All through-out June, one of the most pressing issues was the recruitment of coders and designers that could bring this ontology to life. Community members such as fdoganis, yungmathusalen, Luccca, IanPetrarca and crcdng provided invaluable work, effort and expertise into the construction side of things. A-Frame and WebXR are some of the tools being used, and calls for blockchain engineers and other kinds of expertise are still active for future phases of development.
One of the cornerstones of the concept and development has been The Circular Launchpad: an initial landing hub where one could go to other planets, check out events, chat with artists and collectors, and much more. This is the beginning of the journey and the starting point towards the actual experience of the planet
A world not felt is no world at all. To begin the experience you’ll be able to access the artists’ planets directly, or go through the PORTAL OBJKT that grants access to the world and gets you in the Circular Launchpad. If you choose the latter, you’ll find both the PLANETBUILDER and the AVATARBUILDER. While at the moment the avatar concept is a 3D floating sphere with voice and text chat, in the future it will be a full-on customizable experience: colors, wearables and accessories you can buy as objkts for your avatar.
Once on the planet, interaction with the artists, collectors and pieces is key. The objkts will feel more alive than they do in the current HEN marketplace, and all of them are being worked on to be fully displayed, be it images, with or without sound, or 3D models. A narrative of how will it feel once accessed goes like this:
“They click to enter Ada's PLANET. Since Ada is already there, and have made themselves available for a chat they appear as an abstract avatar: a sphere which gets deformed as they talk, providing visual feedback. Since they are the owner of this PLANET, a visual distinction might appear on their avatar. Ben can admire the artworks and have a chat with the creator, via voice, and maybe text / emoji. Ben's eye suddenly catches a very interesting piece. They come closer, click on it, and are transported back to the artwork's HEN page, with the full description and collect link”
The search for artists to design the planets is already underway, and two have been confirmed: Nox Lumina, media artist blurring the boundaries between digital and physical, and beisik, an architectural designer who mixes realities, creating new ones.
While the trading experience is to be discussed and implemented on future phases of the project, some ideas are already brewing: in-planet objkt4objkt trading and NFT purchasing, as well as avatar building and live events, will make the HEN metaverse a kind of altered-reality game. This means user involvement will not be remain confined of the digital world, but transcend its limits through semi-fictional narratives and continuous engagement - if ARGs have been used for marketing and localized experienced in the past, planetcrafting will allow its core concept (blend the physical and the virtual seamlessly) to become a reality.
Etymologically, economics means house (oikos) management (nomos). In this case, the economics of planetcrafting were among the most debated issues in WG 6.1, many of them brought up by member masterbinder: will it be integrated into hDAO or will it be a DAO of its own? Will it be open source for anyone to play with or does it have to be IP protected?
The community voting allowed paths to be chosen: the metaverse DAO will be integrated to HEN (73%); all tezos tokens will be accepted (62%) and not just HEN ones; and it will be open source (100%), not closed IP - a majority decision that clearly shows the core values of the participants
But before these integrations occur, another dimension has to be covered: the funding of the project. An amount of 449 xtz were awarded from the hicathon - while short of the initial amount proposed of 2,000 xtz, for phase 1, the groups keeps working and have events, both virtual and IRL, coming soon, such as an exhibition, the launchpad event, the workshop on how to upload your avatar to the blockchain, and a metaverse real-life campaign. If you wish to engage and provide support, you can do so by sending xtz or NFTs to the portal henmetaverse.tez - or even with an unconventional, non-traditional proposal to assist with further development.
The hicathon Final Livestream occurred September 26, where visuals (by onyxchromeartworks), achievements and objkts appeared. Among these last ones, the Talisman stole the show: a token for the early believers and contributors of the metaverse that, like the hicathon badge, will unlock special access, as well as entrance to one of the first planets.
All participants have provided unique efforts and skills, but regarding house management a special mention is due to xrealityportal, who has kept the project going with her organization skills and efficient communication channels. Most of the project’s information and its future plans can be seen at their Notion site, and an extremely useful tutorial was recently built and released by crcdng - an invaluable effort to introduce everyone into the metaverse of hic et nunc. If you’re a Talisman holder you can send a request for the whitepaper to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow the most recent updates on twitter (@henmetaverse) and the telegram channel (t.me/henmetaverse)
From xrealityportal presentation at the hicathon final livestream. Visuals by onyxchromeartworks
While some would hesitate to call this project a “metaverse” with fair reasons, planetcrafting is still the birth of something new. Hic et Nunc already proves how NFTs can provide a unique artistic, technical and political experience, and the work done by WG 6.1 shows that the expansion of these qualities into a fully-immersive, community-built and other-worldly experience will add another milestone to the here and now.