About 10 years or more ago I built a full scale model of an Empress Marava class Far Trader in the Second Life virtual world (see image below). Whilst SL is still a great place it doesn't have the traction and mindshare of some of the more recent Social Virtual Worlds, and crucially you can't really use a VR headset with it.
|Empress Marava bridge in Second Life|
So I've started on a project to try building Traveller environments in Mozilla Hubs, which seems to offer the best combination of capabilities and accessibilities of the current crop of worlds. Vitally it used WebXR - so everything runs in your 2D browser and is accessible from an ordinary URL, and in a VR headset you just point the browser at the URL to get in - no software to download and install. In fact I started this project using the custom WebXR framework I developed for my 3D Traveller Map, but then realised that for something that doesn't need scripting Hubs was a better bet as multi-user, avatar design and terrain follow movement all came out the box.
You can access the Empress Marava at: https://hubs.mozilla.com/a3Bqj7N/empressmaravav1
You don't need any account or sign in. Click on Join Room, and you'' be given a random name (which you can change) and a choice of (very blocky) avatars. It wil ask you for microphone permissions as you'll be able to see and chat with anyone else in there (see them gaming possibilities...). Setting up private spaces is an option I'll talk about in another post.
You start on the bridge. If this is your first time in Hubs there's a quick tutorial on movement. It's basically WASD or cursor keys to move, hold left-button and drag to move around.
Now this build is VERY rough. It was a "disposable prototype" just to see what is possible. Even as it is it's still TWICE the recommended size of a Hubs space, so performance may be laggy. Not all exterior walls are in place, so you can walk out into space! There is also no "outside". Just walk through the doors (they don't slide open!), and there are just some random bits of furniture. I've left the deck plan on so you get some idea of where you are. The model is probably about 2x "real" size, but that makes VR movement easier.
This is the cargo deck:
And here's the Owners Quarters:
You should notice a background hum, and this gets louder as you move towards the engine room I've only done the main deck, not the upper deck.
I should note that the build only took a few hours and needed no special 3D skills - the Hubs "Spoke" editor is also free and on-line and accessed through your browser - you only need to create an account. of course the whole build and build process could all be made a lot slicker and better looking of course - I just used their basic architectural blocks and textures. And one nice feature is that you can allow others to "remix" a build, so if I enabled it anyone else could pick up the Marava and customise it to their own needs.
Now on the starboard side of the ship is the big cargo airlock. You can spot it by the image of the planet in the window.
Now if you click on the image Hubs will load up a new space - in this case a Mars like desert world.
Now feel free to wander round (and adventure) on this world. If you want to get back to the ship just head back the rocks you started by and click on the ship bridge image.
So my next plans are:
- Do a v2 build with customised "starship" walls and the second deck
- Build out a suite of different planetary surfaces
I hope you can see all the adventure (and even STEM education) possibilities that this sort of easy access 3D/VR environment opens up. I'd love to hear how you get on and your thoughts about how the Traveller community might be able to use this sort of platform in the future.
Perhaps I'll meet you on the Marava some day!