TL;DR want to visit the Metaverse world this article is about? You can find it here: https://www.spatial.io/s/The-Architects-Den-63710d1ee051b600011c6b79?share=704403498067184030
Look around the Metaverse today and most of what you see are barren, empty places that are strangely devoid of soul. It is like walking around like a lonely ant in an architects model, looking at large, empty spaces built for crowds that will never come, populated with stylised tree shapes that signify that there could be life here, but just not now.
The most important part of a future immersive world is that there are people there. Not gleaming highrises, animated sci-fi spheres soaring through an azure sky, sprawling conference centers with lines of empty booths. The sum total of a Metaverse experience is who you meet there and what you experience with them. This is the starting point of building a relationship with a space. To create a home.
In order for this to happen the space you inhabit needs a story. It needs to have enough personality, enough distinction, enough imperfection to let the people visiting it care about it. A perfect world is a flawed world.
Start building your story. Make sure it feels real — not scripted, not manufactured but something that evolved. Give each space an identity, so people can make connections with it. Let the story be dynamic and ever-changing, so people can be surprised, challenged and delighted as they explore. Let it be interactive — encourage people to explore it, share it with others and have fun.
Together with Jennie Persson, a veteran worldbuilder from our time together at Plotagon, I set out to create a space that had a unique look and feel and that also, in it’s design and setting, hid a story that fleshed out the world and made it interesting.
Midjourney prompt: 1920’s black and white illustration of rooftops by Vladimir Stenberg
We based our designs on the 1920’s constructivist works of designers such as the Stenberg brothers and Aleksander Rodchenko. We use Midjourney, an AI art tool, to create concept images of an attic space where an architect lives and works creating her own version of Virtual Reality.
The artwork generated by the AI contained some really interesting effects in shading and penwork. Our ambition became creating objects and an environment in Blender that fit together with that look and feel. We created a set of textures for our structures based on this look, and pretty soon a world started taking shape that looked unique and alive.
The creative process is iterative and takes place in Virtual Reality. Ideas are sketched out and tried in the environment we’re building. In the space itself we leave notes, sketches and reference images for other ideas that we can work with or return to later. The environment is dynamic and we keep adding objects, ideas and stories as the development of our world progresses.
Finally, the environment is populated with people, and let them explore the space organically. Where things get really exciting is where people bring their own stories and ideas to the Metaverse. Letting people inhabit the space with their own character, thoughts and experiences is what will bring a richness, diversity and vibrancy to the Metaverse that no amount of scripting can ever achieve.