Banter addresses VRCchat with VR social functionality in the effort

At 9 a.m. on a recent weekday, I was standing in a virtual Banter broadcast studio with SideQuest founder Shane Harris.

Next to him was an avatar with a name above the head that Rev. reads Lunar Tiger, and to my right were three cameras in very close positions to the cameras we use to record our weekly VR download podcast.

As I started typing messages to my colleague David Heaney on Slack, peering out from under Meta Quest 3 with my fingers tapping the keys, I told Harris to hold on. What I saw in Banter was physics-based gameplay reminiscent of Bonelab, and it looked like it would hold up well in a standalone Quest 3. Agreed to install it at 8:54 and asked for a meeting place at 9:00.

Slipstream Island, I replied. A lunar tiger round with a top hat and dress will bring you to the right place.

The timestamp on my next message to David Heaney on Slack is 9:10am, while I was editing his article on Metas CTO that eliminates the possibility of an official Quest 3 eye tracking plugin. The headset was off my head, I had fulfilled my promise to him and had already gone back to editing his writing.

In between those stamps, I watched David find our room, meet Harris, and ask a few questions. If you’ve been using VR for any length of time, you’ve noticed that these timestamps tell their own story. After our demo of Banter, I asked Harris to explain his thoughts on how the app wants to do things better than existing platforms. He answered:

The joke is our attempt to discover what we think Metaphor can be. We don’t think it needs to be full of screaming kids, or dominated mostly by the same avatars. We want to build something new that focuses on incredible visuals, full body movement and incredible performance. We’ve tried to use existing open web technologies instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Banter uses a built-in web browser to integrate everything we love about the Internet into the worlds and space in XR, Harris wrote. We want it to be more inclusive and accessible than VRChat, but at the same time aimed as a stand-alone front-end rather than an afterthought. We want Banter to be full of fun features that make it easy for creators to build without limits, without cost, and without having to prove their loyalty.

VRChat has a multi-year head start where they’ve learned the hard lessons of how to scale such an endeavor while growing a passionate user base, with VRChat allowing quick sign-ups to their platform with Oculus or Steam accounts. . Banter just launched last year and includes guest access that allows you to enter some worlds without officially registering. It also supports Unity’s Cinemamachine camera tools, and its small initial file size makes it easy to meet in VR.

Default avatar in Banter.

As a guest you can do most things, enter most worlds. You get a default name created and that “ball” style avatar. If you want to customize your avatar or be able to add friends, you will need to link your SideQuest account. You can then change your avatar or add friends within the app from the “Me” icon in the menu, Harris explained. Guests are currently not silenced when they enter the world, but some spaces can disallow guests.

Competing with VRChat or Rec Room won’t be easy, and the landscape is littered with efforts like AltspaceVR that tried and failed in the social VR space. How exactly can Banter continue to aim to be “indie-first” while still accommodating the kinds of avatars people like to inhabit in VRChat on PC?

This is very clearly an open question and we’ll have to see where Banter goes from here. We are curious to test the virtual studio shown to us and see if it can meet our needs for shows like VR downloads. That’s a tall order, but it’s one we’re looking into. However, we thought the timeline here, as well as the solid performance we saw in the world of Banters, was interesting enough to share with our readers right now.

If you’re curious to check it out, Banter has mostly positive reviews on Steam and is also available in the Meta Quest App Lab.

This is not sponsored content, but UploadVR published a sponsored post tagged SideQuest according to us in April 2023. Moral politics.

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