New Social Features! Happy Holidays!

It’s okay to admit that the 2020 holidays are a little different than years past. Many of our plans have been curtailed and postponed, and this year our tables will likely be a little less crowded. While many people wait for the opportunity to be together again, we’re committed to building a virtual experience that doesn’t simply offer a viable alternative, but an enjoyable one.

Being social is a core experience in AltspaceVR. Whether you’re enjoying an event or touring through different Worlds, you’re most likely to be with a group of people. Making new friends, striking up interesting conversations, and connecting with others are all part of the AltspaceVR experience; and that’s why this year AltspaceVR’s holiday update focuses on brand new social features. We want to make socializing as simple and comfortable as possible for everyone to enjoy; because, this year especially, it’s important to find creative ways to be together when we have to be apart.

Speech Bubbles

As audiences in AltspaceVR continue to grow, we want to make sure you don’t get lost in the crowd. So we’re excited to announce a new speech bubble option. This feature adds a visual indicator over a speaker’s head (or next to their nametag) to make it easier to identify who is speaking. Much like in text-based conversations, the speech bubble lets you know when another person is actively talking to you (or near you.) No more hunting through the crowd in a large event to guess who is asking a question or sharing a thought.

Speech bubbles can be toggled ON and OFF in your Main Menu > Settings > Comfort so you can choose when you’d like to see them. Turning speech bubbles OFF removes them from your field of view, but others who may have the feature enabled will still be able to see the indicator when you speak. That means that event hosts can turn the feature on for themselves, without affecting the general audience experience. The speech bubble will also make it easier for moderators or event hosts to spot a “hot mic.” Instead of combing through the Guest tab in your Host Panel, you can just look out at the crowd.

Join-Friends in FrontRow Events

As our official scaling solution for event hosts, FrontRow is becoming more and more common in AltspaceVR. And while the feature offers a pretty magical experience of omni-presence across multiple spaces simultaneously, it can be a bummer to end up in a different room than your friends. Well, now you won’t have to!

The new Join-Friends feature will prompt you to decide which room you’d like to enter as you teleport into a FrontRow event. The helpful panel will let you see which of your friends are already in the event, and it will let you choose to follow them into their current room. (Don’t worry, if you like the current Wild-Card style entry, you’ll still have the option to enter without choosing a specific room.)

The front row user interface as seen in AltspaceVR.

Host and Audience Zones

A major part of the event hosting experience is prioritizing your audience and ensuring that each of your guests has a great time in your event. To help you streamline your event setup, we’re launching two new space components: Host Zones and Audience Zones. These Zones, found in the World Editor/Editor Panel/Altspace/Basics/ Audience Zone and Host Zone, help guide the guest experience by applying automatic roles and actions (like Mute and On-Air) when appropriate. As with many of the host-specific features, the new Zones aim to give Hosts ultimate control over the setup of their event spaces. Best of all? We’ve updated the space component controls to make placing and customizing these Zones super simple, with an easy to use drag-and-drop function. The feature even includes helpful instructions that you can scroll through to learn-as-you-go. Check out this documentation for more info.

Now you can easily designate an Audience Zone or a Host Zone in your environment. Guests inside of an Audience Zone become automatically muted and unable to open party portals (which can be distracting in the middle of an event.) Similarly, the Host Zone applies automatic megaphone and On-Air ability to guests with active Host and/or Moderator roles. No more guessing! Automatic Zones let both hosts and audiences interact in ways that are more intuitive. Now, much like in the physical world, guests can chat and mingle casually on the outdoor patio during the show without disrupting the set. Special guests who appear on stage become automatically mirrored, making FrontRow events more seamless and enjoyable. No more searching your menu for the right button! Now you can rely on an Automatic Zone to do the heavy-lifting on live event production.

The broadcast panel and a designated host zone in AltspaceVR.
A designated Audience Zone in AltspaceVR

We know it’s been a strange year, but we’re proud of our community’s response to tough times. With more Altspacers and more events, we will continue to bring you features that make your time in AltspaceVR enjoyable and memorable. We wish you a great holiday season, and look forward to bringing you more fun features in 2021.