In what is not an April Fools joke, the rumours of an announcement having been doing the rounds for the last few days, High Fidelity announced on April 1st, 2015 that they are throwing wide the gates on an “Open Alpha” phase for their nascent virtual worlds platform.
The announcement came in the form of a blog post from Philip Rosedale, which reads in part:
This is a very early release, and High Fidelity is still very much a work in progress. The look and visual quality is far from complete, and big things like avatar movement animation and physics are still not in place. There are lots of bugs to fix, and content formats will continue to change. But enough systems are now functional to make us feel that High Fidelity is useful for some types of work, experimentation, and exploration. Having run a small and controlled early alpha to iron out the really show-stopping bugs, we’re now eager to engage a larger group and recruit open source contributions from other developers working on building the metaverse.
The post is full of a lot of useful information for those who have been waiting to slip into Hi Fi and find out what it might be about – such as how to obtain the Interface (client) to access worlds within Hi Fi, and how to download the Stack Manager, should you wish to create your own world. Both the Stack Manager and Interface currently require one of Windows (7 with SP 1 or later), Mac OS X or Linux, although the blog post notes High Fidelity is working on a GearVR / Android version as well.
In mentioning both the Interface and the Stack Manager, it’s worth noting that there are also a number of tutorial videos available which may also be of use, including one covering downloading and installing the Stack Manager and another on running the Interface for the first time (although this doesn’t include downloading and installing it). I’ve added the URLs for the all of the tutorials at the end of this article.
Another aspect of the platform that’s mentioned is that of the Marketplace, which was also recently featured in a High Fidelity video. However, before you get excited about buying / selling goods on Hi Fi, keep in mind the platform doesn’t as yet have any for of currency / token / micro-transaction support. Thus, the marketplace is purely for freely sharing creations with other Hi Fi users – although the company again notes that getting a payment system sorted out is also on their list of priorities.
The most important thing to remember, should you opt to try High Fidelity out for yourself, and haven’t kept up with the news, is that it is very alpha. This means that it is not going to look like Second life in any way shape size or form, and the Alpha is about getting a feel for things, participating in High Fidelity’s development. As such, change is to be expected, as Philip Rosedale warnings in the blog post:
You can expect continuous and substantial changes as we complete new features; we will likely break content as we continue to design and experiment. The transition from ‘alpha’ to ‘beta’, which we expect will happen over a year or so, will signal greater stability in the content formats. But as an open source project with contributions from many developers and with a broad set of features working, we think the time is right to open things up completely for early use.
Obviously Hi Fi also doesn’t run the same way as SL or OpenSim, so there will be a lot of nuances you’ll need to get used to. It’s also currently very small – although the High Fidelity home page may help you get started with finding places to visit (see Up and Running on the home page).
If you are interested in giving High Fidelity a try, please do make sure you read the blog post in full, as it will help to give you a better feel for what you can expect. You can also catch a series of videos from the High Fidelity team on their You Tube channel.