AltspaceVR 101: The Full Beginner’s Guide
Creating Your Own Avatar to Participate in Virtual Events
Without question the future of location-based entertainment will certainly include your own home as virtual reality events increase in popularity. Right now one of the best places to find such events is in the social app known as AltspaceVR. Many promoters and organizers are already bringing huge names and events to AltspaceVR including Diplo, Burning Man, YOUNGA, The Solar Foundation, and the Consumer Electronics Show just to name just a few. As more and more events happen in AltspaceVR it is imperative that you, the collective attendees, understand just how to attend them.
Be aware, there is some learning you will have to complete first if you are brand new to AltspaceVR. It’s nothing scary, but it is necessary. Just the setup of the app on your devices and some understanding of how to navigate around and interact with your surroundings. Having basic awareness of the app and VR space itself can greatly enhance your overall experience. Without it you may feel lost and frustrated as not all things are built so intuitively yet.
Please read and follow this guide completely before attending an AltspaceVR event so that you will be fully ready for your experience! It really will help!
~~~~~~ Table of Contents ~~~~~~
- Download & Install
- Create An Account
- Customize Your Avatar
- Movement and Interaction
- Menus and Settings
- Finding Friends
- Joining Events
- Visiting Other Worlds
- Taking & Sharing Photos
~~~~~~ 1.) Download & Install ~~~~~~
The AltspaceVR app is available on a wide variety of headsets including most Oculus devices, the HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality and even a 2D Mode on PC (similar controls to a first-person game). There is also a Mac client currently released in beta.
- Browse to https://altvr.com/getaltspacevr and locate the download section that applies to your device. Mac users can just click here for direct access to the beta release client and specific installation instructions.
- Click the corresponding button and you will be taken to the correct download page for your platform.
The app itself is offered from a variety of sources depending on the device.
Users in 2D mode on a Windows PC have options for installing either directly through from The Microsoft Store or through their logged in Steam accounts.
HTC Vive users must install the app through Steam.
Oculus Rift and Quest users will be taken to the Oculus Store where they can add the app to their accounts then load them on their headset.
Oculus users may also download and install directly from within the headset by visiting the Oculus Store inside the device.
- After installing the AltspaceVR app on your device, open it for the first time.
- Once it loads, click through a series of quick tips (only the first time) then you will find yourself on the Discover tab of the main menu.
~~~~~~ 2.) Create An Account ~~~~~~
Welcome, Guest! While you have the immediate option to enter an event or hub space your access is severely limited and it is highly recommended that you Sign Up and get this next part out of the way. Currently you must create your account from within the app itself, as website registration is disabled.
- Click the Sign Up button to bring up the registration form.
- Your Display Name is the name that people will refer to you when talking. It shows on your nametag above you and can be changed at any time.
- Your Username, however, is a permanent unique account identifier. It must be 8 to 20 characters in length.
- Your Email and Password are used to log you in and, of course, this email address is how you will receive platform updates and future event notices.
- Input your locale Region and Birthday. You also must be at least 13 years old to sign up for AltspaceVR.
- Click the Create button after you have completed the form. You will be logged out and back in under your new account with a prompt to begin a set of tutorials. If you are new, please click Begin Tutorial!
FYI — If needed, you can always revisit the Tutorial from the General section of your Settings tab in your Main Menu. (TL:DR; it’s pretty easy to get to these tutorials again at anytime!)
~~~~~~ 3.) Customize Your Avatar ~~~~~~
Now it’s time to customize your avatar’s appearance so that you may uniquely express yourself within the virtual space! If you clicked on the Tutorial button this will be the next step anyway, otherwise you can always select the Me tab from your Main Menu to access this section.
At this point you can spend as much time as you like on the customization options as it can be fun to go through all of the options.
- On the left you will notice the main sections: Body, Head, Face, and Clothing. Inside of each section are sub-sections containing options.
- Click on any section to reveal the available sub-sections within it.
- Click on a sub-section to bring up a panel of options on the right-hand side.
- You will also notice on the options panel there are tabs for Style, Pattern, and a Color picker. Here they ae grayed out because there are no style or pattern options for Skin Tone.
- Each sub-section of options will highlight the available tabs in white as seen in the Body Shape options to the left.
- Selecting an option on the right will immediately update your avatar preview so you can see how it affects your look.
- Some option lists are very long (such as Hair — Style) and you will notice paging controls at the bottom. Click on the arrows to flip through each page. The current page dot will be highlighted in blue. Click on a style to apply it to your avatar preview.
- Click the Save button when you are finished to apply your new look.
~~~~~~ 4.) Movement and Interaction ~~~~~~
The next tutorial step teaches you how to move around and interact with objects. You have the option of Walking around (slower) or Teleporting (much faster).
After a brief splash image showing you the movement controls for your device (***PLEASE READ IT — YOU WILL NEED IT!***) you’ll now find yourself standing in your home space with a prompt to “Go to the arrow.” You may walk or teleport there. I suggest trying both to get familiar!
When you reach the arrow it will vanish and another will pop up farther away. This is a natural teaching mechanism for moving around inside the VR world.
When you reach this arrow, you will be prompted for a little interaction with some fireworks. Certain objects in AltspaceVR can be grabbed, picked up and played with. This will teach you how, plus it is pretty fun!
Once you set a few of those bad boys off, you will be prompted for one more trip to another arrow by the basketball court. Here you can practice shooting some hoops! This just demonstrates a different type of interactive item and gets you used to the control scheme for movement and interactions.
Next, you will be prompted to move to an arrow on your left which has you input a code to unlock a door — a neat interaction I’ve never once seen used anywhere else on this platform. The code is written on the note below the pad. It clearly has not been updated in a while.
Finally proceed into the room to the final arrow. You will then be prompted with a message about the Info Zone hub world which is an optional place to get a reminder for all of these things you just learned.
Click Continue and be done!
Now that you have some basic movement and interaction skills, it’s time to run through your menu settings to optimize and tailor your experience!
~~~~~~ 5.) Menus and Settings ~~~~~~
First let’s get familiar with your Radial Menu. This is the small collection of circular buttons floating down on your bottom left and will be very important to your operations.
If you are using 2D Mode on PC or Mac and currently do not see this menu, please right-click — or command-click on Mac — just once to lock your “look around” and be able to access your cursor. The menu should then appear. Do the same thing to hide it again and look around.
- Starting at the top is your Microphone Volume button (Fig. 1) which is currently muted as indicated by the red color and small X inside the icon. Click on it to unmute yourself. Hover over it to bring up volume controls (Fig. 2).
- Moving clockwise the next button is your Emojis panel (Fig. 3). This button brings up a smaller radial menu of different emoticons. Click on any one of these to release a few floating icons above your head. You will hear an audible popping sound when you do. This is a great way to show appreciation in VR!
- Moving along the next button — a little person icon — is your personal space Bubble. By default this option is ON (blue) but clicking it will toggle it OFF (clear) or ON again. The bubble makes anything that gets too close to you vanish from your sight. This is useful for keeping others from blocking your vision. Sometimes though you will want this off, for example when giving a high five to a friend. With it on, their hand would vanish when it got too close to yours. That’s no way to do it!
- Continuing along clockwise, the next two buttons are the Selfie and Camera buttons respectively. These buttons are how you take pictures within the app. The Selfie button takes a picture facing backwards that includes you in the middle. The Camera button takes a picture facing forwards that captures the view that you are seeing. These cameras operate like instant Polaroids (Fig. 4) with no way to really line up a shot so you may end up retaking a few pictures to get things right. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!
- Then you have the Go Home button which will return you to your home space — where you currently are — from anywhere else in the app. It’s a good way to leave an event space but remain logged into the platform.
- Finally, sitting directly in the middle, is the blue Altspace logo button. Click on it to bring up your Main Menu. Get ready to get familiar. You will be using this menu a lot!
The “Discover” Tab
This tab shows the most popular and featured Events as well as the featured hub spaces where you can meet other people and ask questions to get familiar.
The “Events” Tab
This tab shows all current and future events happening in AltspaceVR. Across the top are different sections or ways to filter which events you see.
The “People” Tab
This is where you search for Friends, view incoming friend Requests, see who is Here in the room with you, and list who you have Blocked. More on finding your friends in the next section.
The “Me” Tab
This is where you can customize your Avatar, just as we did earlier.
The “Settings” Tab
Here is the real meat and potatoes of your experience. I’m going to go through each tab and explain things to help you adjust your own controls and comfort levels. Everyone is different, just try all options until you find what you like.
First, turn ON the first two options: Early Access Program and Worlds Beta. This enables you to visit user-created worlds. You will temporarily log out and back in when you enable these. You will also notice a brand new Worlds tab that I will cover in a later section.
Personal Space Bubble is the same option as on your Radial Menu.
Enabling User Nametags will pop up a user’s name over their head when you point your active cursor at them.
The Re-Enter Space button will immediately exit and re-enter whichever event or world you are currently within. This is sometimes very useful for resetting any strange bugs you may be experiencing.
Auto Open Menu makes your Main Menu open automatically as soon as you log in.
Teleport Transition determines how you move while teleporting. BLINK will instantly cut your view from point A to B while DASH smoothly moves your avatar from point A to B, which also slides the entire world past your view. Some people find this disorienting, some simply love it. Try both and see!
Turning smoothly can also cause nausea or discomfort for some users, so there are options to limit your turning to various degrees of angles. Here is another option you will need to try all of to find the one right for you.
Turn Speed only applies if you have Turning set to Smooth.
You can also Show Speech Bubbles of anyone currently speaking.
~~~Input (2D Mode)~~~
Some worlds and events permit you to Fly. This is generally a preferable option!
2D Mode seems a lot easier with Classic PC Controls enabled.
Use Throw Shadow applies a small circular shadow to all interactive items.
Rumble & Pulse Haptics vibrate your controllers when available.
~~~Input (VR Mode)~~~
The above options all still apply but there are a few new ones that are unique to a VR headset.
Cursor On Primary Action will switch which hand your cursor is on. Annoying if you ask me.
Left/Right Cursor Always On allows each of your hands to be useful (I prefer having both).
Most importantly you are able to switch your Teleport Aiming style between an Arc (better for heights) and a straight Line (better for distance). I prefer Line myself but it’s all personal preference here.
~~~Display (2D Mode)~~~
Moveable Huds allows VR users to grab and move menus around in the air.
Anti-Aliasing smooths out the edges of everything making it appear less pixelated. It’s ok to turn this up on 2D mode though VR headsets may have more trouble with higher values.
Resolution and Render Mode simply determine the size of your app window.
High Quality Video will allow video resolutions higher than 720p to be streamed to your device. This is generally favorable to enable.
~~~Display (VR Mode)~~~
The above options all still apply but there are a few new ones that are unique to a VR headset.
UI Scale will double the size of all menus that pop up.
In World Render Scale will determine the quality of pretty much everything you see in-world. Higher values mean sharper details but be careful about turning it up too high as it can be taxing on the lower end headsets causing unpleasant frame rate issues.
For now you can ignore the volume sliders as they do not work in most spaces yet. The last three options are important.
Audio Input Selection is where you set your input source (mic).
Mute Mic By Default causes your microphone to auto mute when you enter a new world or event. This can often be very frustrating as you will begin speaking not realizing you have been muted. Many tend to turn this OFF.
Mute When AltspaceVR Is Idle automatically mutes your mic whenever AltspaceVR is not the app in focus. This is a handy option to enable so you don’t accidentally get caught saying something untoward over a hot mic!
The rest of the tabs are not important to the scope of this guide. Explore them on your own time! Now that you have mastered navigating and configuring your virtual life, let’s go find your friends already!
~~~~~~ 6.) Finding And Making Friends ~~~~~~
The biggest benefit to social VR is the social aspect and hanging out with all of your friends in strange new places! Let’s get started…
- First click on the big center triangle button of your Radial Menu to bring up your Main Menu. Along the right hand side you will always see your Online Friends and, if public, where they are currently at.
- Hover over their name to bring up two options. Clicking Go To will have you attempt to join the world or event they are in at that time. This will not be available if their world is private. Clicking Message will bring up a series of preset message buttons as well as a space to write your own. The preset message “Come Visit Me” will automatically insert an invite link to the world or event you are currently in. This is an easy way to gather friends into one place!
- Now navigate over to the People tab at the bottom. This tab is divided into 4 sections across the top: Friends, Requests, Here, and Blocked.
This section shows all of your friends in a scrollable list. Their Display Name is in white while their Username is in gray. There is an online indicator as well as 3 buttons for Remove Friend, Send Message, and Go To User.
This tab shows incoming friend requests in a scrolling list. Beside each name are two buttons — an X and a checkmark — denoting Deny and Accept Request respectively. Denying a request will not alert the other user.
This tab shows all users who are in the same world or event that you are in. Useful to see who else is in the room and if any of them are your friends.
This tab shows any users you have blocked. You may block users easily by pointing your cursor at their avatar to bring up their nametag above their head. On that nametag will be a mute and a block button.
Blocking a user will instantly remove them from your experience entirely. They will not know you have blocked them but neither of you will ever see or hear the other again. You can remove blocked users from this tab in your settings.
Want To Add Someone As Your Friend?
Another button that appears on an avatar’s nametag is the Send Friend Request button. Simply click this button then press OK on the confirmation and that person will be alerted with a sound and an icon over your own head that you wish to be friends. They will see your own “Friend Request” button has turned into a checkmark to accept. Once someone accepts your friend request, you will be able to see where they are and Go To them at any point when they are online in a public space.
~~~~~~ 7.) Joining Events ~~~~~~
Finally, the reason you’ve worked your way through this guide: how to actually DO something in AltspaceVR! Now that you know who you are, how you look, and how to get around, it’s time to… well get around! Open up your Main Menu once again but this time switch to the Events tab at the bottom. Now we will see what is currently happening…
~~~Open Public Events~~~
There’s never a shortage of events happening in Altspace and through the Events tab in your Main Menu you can explore all of them! Topics range from everything to everything else and most anything in between. You are sure to find something that interests you and it’s incredibly easy to enter. Simply hover your cursor over the event tile and a few options pop up:
- PORTAL — This will spawn a community portal to this event in front of your avatar. Other users can click on it to attach themselves to the portal so when you click on it again and go to the event, they will all instantly follow you! It’s very handy for moving large groups together.
- ENTER — Clicking on this will instantly move your avatar to the event space. This one applies to only yourself, no friends come with. They can, however, use the Go To button on your name in their list to follow you.
- INFO — This just brings up a panel of more information about the event.
Searching For A Specific Event?
If you have a particular event that you are looking for, the best way to find it would be to visit the https://altvr.com website and do a search there. You can enter or RSVP to the event from there then re-enter the app and look under your Interested section of the Events tab. At this time, options are limited within the app itself for filtering down the event listings.
~~~Private Listed Events~~~
Not every event is open to the public which means you would not see them unless your unique Username (the permanent one) has been specifically added to a guest list. Any private events that you are allowed into will appear under the My Events section of the Events tab in your Main Menu.
~~~Website Event Links~~~
All events on AltspaceVR, both public and private, have a corresponding website landing page created for it automatically. Often times promoters of an event will send this link out to patrons for an easy way to enter from 2D mode or PC-connected headsets. From this page you are able to actually ENTER an event if it is currently live and publicly available (or if you have been added to the private guest list). If the event is not yet live, you will be able to RSVP for a reminder instead.
~~~RSVP For Easy Entry~~~
The easiest methods for keeping tabs on an upcoming AltspaceVR event is to RSVP using the blue button on the event’s website landing page. Simply browse to this page using the event link discussed above, log into your account and click the RSVP button (or vice versa), then the next time you load up the AltspaceVR app, that event will be listed on the Interested section of the Events tab in your Main Menu. You should also receive an email to your registered address shortly before the event begins as a reminder notice.
~~~Go To Your Friends~~~
If you already have friends you’ve connected with on AltspaceVR who are currently attending an event, you can simply find them in your Online Friends list and click Go To.
~~~~~~ 8.) Visiting Other Worlds ~~~~~~
While the main draw of AltspaceVR is the wide range of virtual events to attend, it is very much worth exploring the various other worlds created by both Altspace staff and community users. You can spend hours exploring the wonders created by so many different imaginations while meeting new friends along the way!
- Open your Main Menu to the Worlds tab. (If you do not see the Worlds tab, go to Settings — General and turn ON Enable Worlds).
There are a number of official hub spaces and worlds that have been created or vetted by the staff to help users immerse into fun and unique environments while keeping frame rates and performance high. This ensures a smoother experience and a more enjoyable memory of it!
The Featured section of the Worlds tab on your Main Menu will be your best entry point to the official hub worlds. You will likely experience other environments of theirs by attending some events. Just like for the events, you hover over the world you wish to enter and click the Enter button. Easy!
There are also some official Hub Spaces available from the Discover tab. Try the Campfire space for mingling with new people!
Along with the official worlds there are endless user-created spaces being created each day. You can visit the Popular section of the Worlds tab to see which worlds have the most activity. Be sure to favorite worlds you enjoy most so you can easily return!
When visiting a world you will notice a new map-like icon appears on your Radial Menu in the upper left between Go Home and Mic Volume titled “You Are Here.” Clicking on this button brings up a panel of information about the the current world or event.
From this panel you are able to click the Favorite button, which will highlight blue and instantly add that world to your list. From then on you can find and enter the world quickly just by bringing up the Favorites section of the World tab in your Main Menu.
Note — you cannot favorite a world during an event as the event space is actually a copied instance of the world, not the world itself. C’est la vie!
~~~~~~ 9.) Taking & Sharing Photos ~~~~~~
While you are out and about exploring all of these worlds and events you may just want to capture your experience and share it with your friends later. This is possible in AltspaceVR you just need to refer back to the two Camera and Selfie buttons on your Radial Menu.
Each of these buttons functions in the exact same way only differing in the direction the camera faces. You click on one of the buttons and a small camera icon with a 3…2…1… countdown appears in front of you until it flashes and snaps the picture. Only YOU can see and hear this camera and the subsequent preview of the shot. After a brief explanation of each button I’ll explain how to share your photos.
~~~ Camera ~~~
The Camera button takes a forward facing picture to capture more of what you are currently seeing. This could be friends having fun, a lovely landscape, or whatever you like!
If you are a perfectionist like me it can be challenging sometimes to capture the exact composition you want due to how the camera functions. It can be tedious at times but try try again until you get it down. Eventually you will learn the distances and angles you need to be at to be a better snap shooter!
~~~ Selfie ~~~
The Selfie button takes a reverse facing picture to capture yourself and your closest friends (literally). The frame is pretty tight and always centered on your face so get CLOSE! The direction you look will be the opposite direction the camera faces. This too can be challenging to get right at first and may require some practice with the insta-snap polaroid! Remember your friends cannot see the camera icon that appears and may not know which direction to look so pointing it out sometimes can be helpful.
Want To Share Your Photos With Friends?
While this is totally possible, it’s not exactly intuitive or easily accessible from within the app yet. You will have to log into the website to see your photo library and to share them with others. At the top will be a Photos tab…
Under the My Photos section you will see your latest snaps, both selfies and otherwise. I’m not sure what Filters does at this time, that seems new so we’ll ignore it for now. Clicking on any on one of your pictures brings up a larger preview and a set of tools.
Click the large photo preview itself to download a high res copy of it to your computer.
EDIT will open the photo up further for adding information.
DELETE permanently removes the photo from your library.
Click on the EDIT button to open that photo’s details.
You will notice a few optional fields to give your photo an Name and assign some Hashtags. These are useful if you take a lot of pictures and want to search your archives later. On the right hand side is how you share this photo with your friends, as indicated by the large heading saying so.
Clicking on the ADD FRIEND button will spawn a dropdown menu from which you can select an existing friend. The list is sorted by Display Name. Select as many friends as you want (one per dropdown) then click the Update button to save.
Anyone you share the photo with will be notified in app with a link to view that will only work on mobile headsets. PC users will have to visit the website Photos tab under the Friends section. This is also where you would come to re-view a photo shared with you.
So In Conclusion…
Welcome to AltspaceVR! By now you should have a pretty good handle on the basics. Believe me there is a LOT more to learn about this platform but for now this should get you going pretty well. I recommend simply putting on your explorer hat and jumping right in! Find some new worlds, go to interesting events, meet new people and discuss vast new topics. There is a rich community to discover and they’re all already waiting for you :)
See you in the metaverse!
— Cause (a world builder)