Building a metaverse for a brand or agency can be a daunting task, but with the right skills and knowledge, it can be a powerful tool for engaging with audiences and building a sense of community. In this article, we’ll break down some key tips and skills needed when building a metaverse and compare the pros and cons of using an off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platform versus coding a bespoke platform. First, let’s define what we mean by a metaverse. Simply put, a metaverse is a shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. It can be used for a wide range of purposes, from gaming and entertainment to education and training. Over the past year, brands have caused a huge media buzz with the likes of Nike, Gucci, and WWF successfully digitalising their own virtual worlds, using minigames, avatar customisation, and environmental design to drive bespoke product placement and raise awareness for vital causes.
The PurposeWhen building a metaverse for a brand or agency, there are a few key skills and tips to keep in mind. First, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the metaverse and how it will be used. This will inform the design and functionality of the digital space and help ensure that it is tailored to the specific needs of the brand or agency. Another is understanding the different types of platforms that are available. There are two main options; off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platforms and bespoke metaverse platforms.
Off-The-ShelfOff-the-shelf hosted metaverse platforms are pre-built and can be easily customised to fit the needs of the brand or agency. Here are a few platform examples where brands like BMW to WWF teamed up to implement immersive strategies into their business plans.
BespokeOn the other hand, examples of bespoke metaverse projects include:
A further consideration when building a metaverse is how the 3D graphics will be rendered. There are two main options: rendering the 3D graphics locally using WebGL or rendering in the Cloud and Pixel Streaming.
WebGLRendering the 3D graphics locally using WebGL (and in the future WebGPU) is a popular option as it allows for unlimited users as each user has their own device. Additionally, rendering locally can reduce latency and improve the overall user experience. The downside is the graphics quality is only as good as the user’s device, and on an older mobile, this may result in less realistic 3D worlds.
Cloud & Pixel StreamingOn the other hand, rendering in the cloud and pixel streaming can leverage the latest GPUs and produce highly realistic 3D worlds. Platforms like Journey and Odyssey provide cloud rendering and streaming as well as extensions for popular game engines like Unreal and Unity to facilitate multi-user interaction, onboarding, etc. The downsides are that the 3D-rendered view needs to be constantly streamed, requiring a high bandwidth connection. This also introduces a latency between users’ inputs and seeing the result on screen, depending on bandwidth this can be quite disconcerting. Costs are calculated per user, so for large-scale rollouts costs of cloud computing can quickly dwarf the metaverse creation cost, but for smaller numbers of users and limited-time rollouts, it’s more economical. This cost constraint will likely improve quickly as more cloud GPUs come online and competition drives down prices.
The Key To SuccessCore to a successful metaverse project, whichever tools you use is the purpose. There has to be a compelling reason for users to enter, stay and return to your metaverse. Careful consideration of the value users will receive from spending time in the space will ensure it’s not just a marketing gimmick. Things like social connections, rewards, ownership of assets, gamification, timed events, unique experiences, exploration and learning all help to give the metaverse you create enough depth to make spending time in it rewarding. Whichever route and tools are right for you can be complex to work out. Speaking to an experienced production partner will save time and money and avoid costly false starts. Here are a just few of the custom digital worlds the team at Solarflare Studio have created over the past year:
- Project management is essential to guarantee the timely and budget-friendly completion of a project. Not only that, it creates a happy productive atmosphere for the development team to exceed the client’s expectations.
- UX/UI knowledge is key to creating a user-centred design that promotes a seamless and intuitive experience.
- Creative thinking serves as a catalyst, not only for designing the overall experience but crafting memorable moments within that leave a lasting impression and keep users coming back.
- Coding is the vital nuts and bolts hidden away, the building blocks of the experience that make everything work and allow you to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
- 3D modelling is responsible for creating everything that you see in a metaverse. For a visually appealing experience, it should be crafted with a high level of precision.
- Animation plays a crucial role in bringing to life various elements, from your avatar to all the 3D models populating the space. It’s what makes them move.
- Audio is an all-important aspect in creating an immersive and captivating experience that engages all the senses. Exceptional spatial sound effects can significantly enhance our perception and interaction with digital environments.