Twinity passes 50K beta users

According to the indefatigable Andrew Peters, mirror world Twinity has reached the landmark of fifty thousand beta users.

That’s certainly a good critical mass of users, and it comes on top of a big week for Twinity. The Singapore Government has awarded funding via its Media Development Office to Twinity developers Metaversum. The funds are to create a virtual Singapore with geo-tagging and geo-located media streaming. It’s certainly a show of faith in Twinity.

We’d love to hear from any Australian users that make up those fifty thousand beta-testers. How are you finding it so far?

Twinity moves to public beta

Metaversum have moved Twinity to the next stage of it’s development, announcing its public beta phase. A media event was held in Germany with Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit, to formally open virtual Berlin. Wowereit was even presented with a key to the virtual city.

Jochen Hummel, CEO of Metaversum remains upbeat on Twinity’s development: “With the launch of our public beta phase, we have laid the foundation for Twinity’s international rollout.”

You can sign for the beta program here.

Berlin – live in Twinity

Berlin’s Hackescher Markt is the latest addition to the mirror world Twinity.

According to Metaversum, this is the first time that Berlin has been mirrored within a virtual world – the
Hackescher Markt district comes in at over six square kilometers of area in the real world. Twinity’s version has shops, galleries, bars, and clubs that all exist in the real Berlin.

You can still register for the current private beta phase.

Five jobs on offer at Metaversum (Singapore or Germany)

Metaversum, creators of Twinity, have a bunch of jobs up for grabs.

The roles are varied and can be based in either Singapore or Germany – check our jobs board for more info.

If you’re looking to recruit, why not use our free jobs board yourself?

Twinity – what is it good for?

Twinity – the virtual world that mashes up the real with the virtual world”, proclaims their website. However, Twinity is no more of a mashup of the real and virtual worlds than any other virtual world. It’s a world of real people meeting other real people, filled with real digital content, all set against a backdrop of digital representations of real places and places that could exist in real life. What’s new here, if anything, and where might Twinity fit in the greater scheme of things?

Chad says,"I don't understand this game at all."

Like many mashups, the main justification for their existence is convenience: bringing together multiple ideas, and associating them in a useful and time-saving manner. Twinity takes pre-existing concepts, makes a light, fluffy interface to access them, and uses what is currently a slow and buggy system to serve up the result. It doesn’t sound too good so far, but to be fair the whole system is still in Beta. However, only the flakiness of the system looks set to change, as the feature-set does not seem to be destined to change radically.

So what would make a potential user pick Twinity over another virtual world, or choose to use it despite the mass of more accessible options available for entertainment purposes?

Eye-watering green cubes turn out to be spaces for Users to express themselves artistically.

1. Lightweight interface: there’s less to learn about interacting with the world than in other virtual worlds. However, this means that the Users’ options are limited when it comes to interacting with the world (where “User” is Twinity jargon term referring to the real person at the keyboard).

2. Convenience: it puts a whole bunch of people together with some digital diversions, in a place where they can interact with other people who have an interest in the same digital material. The entertainment types are quite limited at this point and it does not look as though that is going to change substantively in the near future.

How does Twinity overlap other virtual worlds?

1. Virtual physical presence: unlike text-based solutions, Twinity gives Users visual cues from the people around them, from simply knowing who is in the room to being able to get some measure of personality from appearance.

2. Eclectic encounter-based mechanic: Users can bump into other Users and interact with them. Interactions which might never have occurred in the real world are common-place and informal in a virtual world.

3. Virtual physical proximity: Users have something immediate to talk about that they can share. Proximity to objects and entertainment sources gives Users a shared experience that can form the basis of their interactions.

4. User-created items: This is common to many virtual worlds, to a greater or lesser extent. This capacity has not yet been added to Twinity, but is expected in the near future, certainly before the product exits the Beta phase.

In which ways does Twinity not compare well with other virtual worlds?

Signs are difficult to read in Twinity unless you have your head stuck in them.

1. Broad cross-section of User backgrounds: Users are attracted to virtual worlds for a variety of reasons, and these differing reasons ensures that Users will be different from each other in some ways. However, a world with as many restrictions as Twinity is likely to filter out a number of potential Users because of the limitations on experiences and expression.

2. In-world creation tools: No in-world tools for content have been announced.

3. Limited movement and camera control options: This may be seen as a benefit by some, and a lack by others. Movement is orthogonal and diagonal only and camera controls are heavily simplified.

4. No geography: Twinity is essentially a set of rooms linked by teleportation. Outdoor spaces provide a semblance of geography, but really they are no more extensive than sound stages.

5. Windows-only client: Mac and Linux users are simply not catered for.

The lightweight simplicity of the interface may be sufficient to attract a large contingent of Users to the platform, however that very simplicity is likely to turn off users of people who have used other, more sophisticated worlds previously. In short, the platform is appropriate for people looking specifically for a lightweight chatting and entertainment solution – but don’t expect more than that.

50 Twinity invitations for TMJ readers

Metaversum, creator of Twinity are kindly offering fifty Metaverse Journal readers an invitation to join its beta program.

The first fifty people to go to this link will be able to sign up. If you do register, post a comment on your experience with Twinity.

Bitfilm’s virtual art city in Twinity

Metaversum’s virtual cum mirror world, Twinity, is hosting the German digital media festival Bitfilm in an underground city called Bitropolis. It houses a cinema to view Bitfilm entries as well as an art gallery and bar. Digital media artists can rent their own cube close to the cinema to use for their screenings or other exploits.

The Bitfilm promo gives a snapshot of the quality of digital media on offer:

The festival runs through to the 12th July. To access Bitropolis you’ll need to register online.

There’s no shortage of virtual world film festivals now but this seems to be one of the more integrated efforts involving a well established festival. If you’re a Twinity beta-tester, we’d love to hear from you on the festival.

Interview – Dr Mirko Caspar, Twinity co-founder

Twinity is one of the growing swathe of mirror worlds in development. We took the opportunity this week to fire some questions at Dr Mirko Caspar, who’s the CMO and co-founder of Metaversum, the company behind Twinity.


Lowell: Can you outline the history of how Twinity came about?

Mirko: Connecting the real with the virtual world will be one of the major Internet trends in the coming years. Such a virtual world will be both playful and useful, with positive benefits for the ‘real’ lives of those who explore and populate it. Twinity is designed to enrich people’s real lives. Most of the current virtual worlds focus on fantasy environments without reference to the real world. Twinity will blur those boundaries and create that missing link. With that vision in mind, Jochen Hummel (CEO), Dietrich Charisius (CTO) and myself (CMO) founded Metaversum in 2006. Metaversum has since developed Twinity, which is now in private beta.

Lowell: You’re competing in an increasingly crowded space – who do you see as your core market?

Mirko: Basically, Twinity is for everyone who wants to communicate, seeks entertainment and fun or wants to run a business. It is for social networkers and chat-fans who want more emotional, human communication in 3D. It is for the virtual world and 3D entertainment aficionados who want their real life with all their friends and interests represented.

In short, Twinity is for everybody who has Internet access and wants to share experiences with other people via the Internet. The core user is probably between the ages of 18 and 49 years, but it certainly extends into older demographics that enjoy the real life approach.

Lowell: Is it correct in saying Twinity is a mirror world platform? And for the uninitiated how do you define a mirror world?

Mirko: A mirror world is a world that mirrors the real world. Naturally, such a world would show a selective reflection. It isn’t a one to one mirror. Twinity is a social 3D platform that blurs the boundaries between virtual reality and the real world. So far, our members can create indoor spaces – but you can be geographically located anywhere in the world. Also we encourage and enable our user to create realistic avatars. So, Twinity does have facets of a mirror world already. We think the real world is fascinating. It sets a great stage for interaction and communication – real people in real places who share real experiences. What it comes down to is this: more direct, emotional, collaborative, and immersive interactive communication within a familiar environment.

Lowell: Is the beta program progressing as expected and do you have a firm timeline for a release candidate?

Mirko: Twinity is currently in its private beta phase. In this phase, members already have the ability to create their personal avatars, design their own apartments anywhere in the world and communicate with other members through bubble chat, VoIP or animations. We’ve taken the feedback of our beta users into consideration, and we’re currently focusing on two main areas of development: implementation of the outside environment and preparation for the open beta release. Our roadmap is firm. Our timeline is as firm as it can be when you are developing a virtual world. Our next step will be the announcement of the open beta.

Lowell: What are the plans for Macintosh / Linux users?

Mirko: We want to give our users as much choice as possible; but doing that takes time. At the moment, Twinity runs on Windows XP and Vista. For Mac users who want to use Twinity, we recommend using Boot Camp and running Windows on a partitioned Mac. However, this should only serve as a temporary solution. As soon as we can communicate an easier solution, we will do so.

Lowell: You’ve been on record as saying that avatars will only be able to be human – does that remain your position and do you think this will limit your market appeal?

Mirko: People want to connect with real people and be as emotional, interactive and authentic as possible – this is also true when engaging on the Internet. Twinity is a platform that allows for this interconnection. We believe such an approach will open up virtual worlds to mainstream audiences, in much the same way that people are now accustomed to using real-to-real communication on platforms like Facebook and MySpace.

Lowell: Are you able to give any further information on Twinity’s economic model?

Mirko: You can use Twinity without paying any fees. Members only have to pay in Twinity if they get something special in return. Premium features require a subscription. Virtual items and real estate will be offered by our commercial members or us for a price. There will be some advertising.
Our in-world economy will be similar to the real world. We have a payment method, a “virtual currency”, which we call the Global! If you want to create and offer items or services and market them to the community, you can become an active commercial member. If you are a consumer, you can buy virtual goods or services including real estate.

Lowell: You’ve mentioned previously that user-generated content will be one option – to what extent will users be able to generate content and use it within Twinity?

Mirko: Members can generate content in Twinity, as long as they follow our Terms of Service. The simplest forms of user generated content are pictures and music, which can be easily uploaded to your apartment. If you become a premium member, you can also use converter tools to upload items that have been created using modelling tools like 3dMax. We are currently testing those tools and will announce when they will be made available to our members.
Lowell: What is the pricing model likely to be for use of Twinity?

Mirko: Basic usage of Twinity is free. We will also offer premium services to premium members for a monthly subscription. For now, all those features are free and we will announce the introduction of subscription fees well in advance. Our members will also have the opportunity to buy, sell and rent real estate or purchase virtual goods. To a large extent those prices will depend on the prices that our commercial members will charge for their goods and services.

(Disclosure: Twinity’s Singapore marketing is done by Andrew Peters from The Pacific West Communications. Andrew also does Global Marketing Communications and Sales for Big-Bit Australia, which is an advertiser on The Metaverse Journal)

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