This document lays the theory why CryptoAvatars.io is needed to foster a real Metaverse as a whole.
We’re in the middle of 2020, after a Covid-19 global quarantine, locking in millions of people in their houses for months. We’ve proved that remote work is viable for a lot of businesses and we’ve also experienced an increasing demand of VR technology for the future as a way of connecting each-other regardless the location.
Various “virtual reality” social platforms have been in development prior to the virus strike and all of them have been experiencing an increasing number of users during the quarantine.
Each of this platforms represent a different segment of interest age range and all of them are being used by an audience completely different from eachother.
All of them share something in common, they all foster community driven content creation, leaving the power to the users to decide what they want their platform to become, so some users have started to take advantage of it by creating recurring events and art, building communities inside these platforms.
What we’re experiencing is the very beginning of the Metaverse. A multilayered reality where humans interact with each-other, sharing common values and interest in different virtual places regardless of their physical location and traveling limitations.
But this is just a fragment of the whole picture, this is what in real life we call the external world, but what about your inner world?, your persona, your avatar; this field is an essential part of the Metaverse as it is the virtual identity of human kind.
Right now there are various virtual social platforms in development, such as VRChat, NeosVR, Decentraland, Somnium Space, CryptoVoxels, The Sandbox, Sansar… among others, and VR games like Beat Saber and Oh Shape or VR streaming platforms like LIV. And in the following months we’ll see how all these VR experiences and games will get mass adoption faster than we initially thought, so we’ll see a boom of more and more VR content being made. Also big companies such as Facebook have been heavily investing in this field and has even made their own platform called Horizon.
All the platforms and games above represent different layers of the Metaverse, every time you have to load a screen or change from a game to another, you are traveling between layers. Every platform has it’s on approach to layers, but there are 2 very distinctive categories that most platforms fall into.
Metaverse browsers, like VRchat where you travel between layers (worlds) all the time through portals, is all fully immersive but created by one sole team or individual.
Persistent layer platforms, like Decentraland, are where you always share the same layer with everyone else and are built by the community who “own” the LAND.
In a not so distant future, the swap between realities will be as seamless as possible, probably without needing to change apps or remove your headset, just as we change tabs on our browser.
This will be a need that companies will be forced to focus on since users of the future will demand it and see it as a basic feature. If your VR platform or game is not joined in to this seamless network experience you will be losing market opportunity, just as if you were an Android developer and didn’t list your product on the Play Store. This extremely simple feature of the Metaverse unlocks bigger problem yet to be solved.
Even if we don’t achieve have a highly advanced seamless layer travel experience in our lifetimes, we’ll start to see an increasing demand of the ownership over digital assets, as we start to pay more attention and spend more time in this digital layer of reality.
The most basic digital asset that any virtual world can have and need are avatars, because they are the visual representation of our identity in the digital realm.
The more time you spend in your avatar and the more you use it, the more comfortable you get with it, and other people can attach your persona to it.
Most games and platforms allow people to pick among some pre-made characters that only can be used in their world and some of them have a wearable system attached to these pre-made avatars.
Some other platforms allow users to upload customized 3D virtual reality avatars; this creates and fosters an avatar making market, powered by the users. Commissioned avatars are in high demand because users who spend a lot of time in VR want to have a unique identity that represents them across the Metaverse.
The avatar making market is only a few years old, but users are already starting to show some concerns.
- 1. There is no proof of ownership over avatars
There are different kinds of people who buy avatars, but the more you spend on VR, the more you want your avatar to be unique, and the more you are willing to invest in it. Avatar commissions are something done between VR citizens and they require avatars that are custom tailored by the citizens ideas.
Avatar designers can spend weeks with their creations, and once delivered to their commissioner there is no receipt to prove who the original creator was and who the actual owner of that specific piece is.
- 2. Interoperability
Every platform has it’s own rules for avatar management, some of them allow you to upload custom made avatars while others only allow you to sell wearables using their pre-made style avatars.
This is creating a huge gap between platform users, and mostly because they cannot bring their assets from one world to another; they cannot keep their identity across different metaverse layers.
These are just the top edge of the problem affecting a small niche of users. Most VR users are not even aware of them yet, but they will be with the increasing demand for VR.
CryptoAvatars are here
CryptoAvatars is a platform where designers can tokenize their VR avatars using blockchain technology and sell their creations for cryptocurrencies.
The avatar tokens are ERC721 single edition tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. This provide a long lasting value since anyone can prove the authenticity and ownership of each avatar, making it easy to give credit to the original creator, regardless the Metaverse layer they are being used in.
Our platform allows you to showcase and sell Virtual Reality Avatars to collectors who are looking to own exclusive creations.
How it work for creators
Avatar designers have to apply to our onboarding process to get whitelisted, so they can mint avatar using our contract.
On this process we’ll test the designer technical skills, making sure they know the basics to create a fully functionally working avatars. This includes 3D modelling, rigging, textures and visemes and VRM creation.
We’ll also verify that the desginer is the real person behind the work, by checking with them on various social media accounts.
After this, they’ll have access to mint and sell avatars on the platform.
How it works for collectors
Collectos can browse and buy avatars for cryptocurrencies, such as ETH.
Thanks to the manual onboarding process they can be sure they are buying from the original creator and that they’ll have a functional avatar.
Once purchased, an avatars VRM file can be downloaded and implemented in their favorite supported platforms.
Only the owners of the NFT will have access to dowload the file.
Why an onboarding process?
Making an avatar is a complex process, there is a range of skills you need to know in order to make it work properly. We want to make sure the person we’re allowing to mint know these skills, so the content created has an extra layer of technical quality. The avatars on CryptoAvatars are unique and will remain forever on the blockchain, so we want to ensure they work properly.
This project needs to become sustainable in order to keep fostering interoperability among the Metaverse and allowing designers to create avatars on the blockchain
There is some cost producing and sustaining CryptoAvatars.io, such as IFPS storage system, onboarding new artists, producing eduacional content, updating systems, developing VRM file format, promoting artists and the project, incorporating new creative ideas, incorporating, among others that will appear in the future.
There are 2 revenue models for the project:
- We’ll take 10% commision fee for the first sale of any CryptoAvatar NFT.
- We’ll keep producing avatars under the CryptoAvatars brand that will provide an income for the team.
All the NFTs created by the CryptoAvatars team will become open source automaticaly, allowing new designers to build, experiment and profit on top of them.
Other artists can choose their License system while loading the avatar.
Framing avatars and different type of contracts.
On this first steps of CryptoAvatars we’ll have only a type of contract, a basic ERC721.
But in the future we’ll likely develop new type of contracts that will have different qualities and properties like an ERC1155.
With this in mind we created a Thumbnail Framing system that will sintesice the contract and VRM license file information and help differentiate what kind of avatar are you buying regarless the platform you’re buying, very similar to any trading game mechanic.
This Framing system works automatically and it frames information such as:
- Contract Type: Depending on the NFT contract, the outer frame colour will change.
- Name: Chosen by the artist while minting.
- Personation/ Characterization Permision
Who can modify the model: Only author, specified person, or everyone. Depending on what they chose this badges will change.
Allowing commercial use, allowing sexuality acts and disallowing violent acts, adds a badge to the thumbnail.
If the designer decides to disallow commercial user, disallow sexuality acts and allows violent acts, this badges WONT appear on the thumbnail.
So When you create a new CryptoAvatar NFT, aside the VRM, we’ll also need to upload a 2D image of the Designers choise of 500x700.
The avatars are a VRM file, which is an open source file format developed by the VRM Consortium. A group of VR Japanese companies that are constantly co-operating to create a better interoperable VR ecosystem.
It is based on GLTF files that can contain meshes, rigging, blendshapes, materials, springbones textures and animations specifically made for humanoid avatars, and a license that allows use of that specific avatar.
Using the Ethereum blockchain we developed a contract that tokenizes virtual reality ready avatar files, generating a ERC721 token. These tokens, also called NFT (non-fungible tokens) are single edition. and they contain the virtual reality ready avatar file where only the owners have access to download it directly on the website.
Due the recent Ethereum high gas fees we’ve been forced to look for scalable solutions that don’t get designers and collectors scared with gas fees, such as Matic.
Matic offers a second layer Ethereum network to deploy our contract and allows users to swap their NFTs to the Ethereum mainnet.
Users will be able to create their token both on the Mainnet and Matic, and interchange the tokens between networks if they want to.
IPFS — The Interplanetary File System is a decentralised storage network that we decided to use to store the avatars. We’ll be using Pinata to keep the files alive.
Opensea will be a storefront for sales of the NFTs, at least in the very beggining of the project.
All the tech mentioned above might become obsolete in the future and we’ll always look for ways to keep the project as interoperable and persistent as possible with the latest tech available, even if this means migrating to another network.
CryptoAvatar has been in development for some time now by a professional team with plenty of experience in making avatars for different platforms.
We aim to grow CryptoAvatars into a place where avatar designers and VR citizens come together to talk, share, learn and trade virtual reality avatars.
This project sits in the middle of 2 industries that are still not being massively adopted, blockchain and VR but that have potential for exponential growth in the not so distant future. Meaning both technologies are still used by early adopters that can overlap between each other.
Being a place for creating avatars dependant of other platforms is a risk for the success of the project since we need to foster great relationships with all these platforms in order to integrate our project. But on the other hand, being independent will be highly beneficial both for artists and collectors, since their work won’t be compromised if the platform fails. Also, other new emerging platforms could integrate our contracts and avatars to improve and foster their project by adding a huge amount of ready to use avatars.
Prior CryptoAvatars our team had create already over 200 open source virtual reality avatars, that are being already implemented on different platforms such as VRchat, NeosVR and LIV.
There is already some people using them on different ways, like ,using them for their social media content, streaming and creating new avatar remixes.
All this avatars are the fundation that we’ll use to build CryptoAvatar because they got:
- Very optimized polycount for mobile VR headsets such as Oculus Quest.
- Clean topology so they are easy to modify and build on top.
- Easy UV layauts to modifty it’s texture.
- Proper working Visemes and rigging.
Having them Open Source allow us to foster an interoperable Metaverse, because it will teach by example, how to create good avatars to new avatar designers.
It will also allow creators without high technical 3D skills to create remixes too.
Forward in time
The VRM minting platform is just the very beginning of CryptoAvatars, we want everyone to be able to mint avatars at some point in the near future.
We’ll achieve this goal by:
- Having an always ongoing onboarding process for avatar designers.
- Developing tools that will remove barriers for creative minds to create unique avatars and foster fair collaboration between designers.
- Keep fostering the development of VRM file features by listening to the needs of the avatar designers on the platform.
- Documenting this development and supporting the western culture usage of the VRM file.
- Keep creating and uploading documentation about avatar making in order to teach both designers and collectors about the process of avatar making.
- Collaborating and building Integrations with platforms for easier usage of the CryptoAvatars files and it’s contract.
Polygonal Mind is an independent creative development studio from Zaragoza, Spain founded by 2 friends who wanted to develop games and VR experiences.
Our vision is to be pioneers in the building of new virtual realities so that humankind can share, experiment and evolve together.
We imagine, design and develop stunning environments, avatars and games that contain a huge artistic value. And we’ve doing this since 2015 for various clients around the world.
In the last 2 years we’ve been having an special involvement on the metaverse development, we’ve built spaces and wearables for Decentraland, The SandBox, Cryptovoxel, VRchat, Beat Saber, among others, and we have released over 200 open source avatars that are being used by thousands of users around the world, they are specially popular and used on VRChat.
We’ve released dozens of free documentation explaining how we create environments, composition, avatars and software tutorials.
The remaining founder and former CEO, Daniel Garcia (aka Toxsam) is a very proficient character designer with 8 years of experience making different kind of 3D characters, from perfectly proportioned hyperrealistic character to the most simple cartoony style with funky shapes.
The rest of the team is a mix of talented digital artists, blockchain and game developers that have been pushing virtual platforms boundaries to improve their capabilities.
Due to our background CryptoAvatars felt the natural step for our studio to bring more value to the Metaverse.
Thanks to the ditCraft team for doing an auditory on our Ethereum contract.
Thanks to Freepik for let us use for free the following icons to create visual examples.