Protoworld - an open metaverse

· 9 min read
Protoworld - an open metaverse

protoworld.io has launched its open metaverse in a Pre-Alpha version. Interested folks can now apply for early access >> here. Protoworld is a virtual world or gallery builder integrated with Tezos and Ethereum. It mixes some of the concepts you might already know from Oncyber and Voxels (former Cryptovoxels). In essence – the user is able to create a zone and show NFTs connected to the individual wallet.

Compared to Voxels, tz1and or Decentraland, the Protoworld metaverse seems not to be related to any (virtual) geographical location (with coordinates on a map) of the zones created by users. There are no streets on which you walk along before deciding to visit this or that POI. Instead, the zones in Protoworld can be compared with the more isolated spaces of Voxels, which are the free equivalent of the paid parcels. The spaces of Voxels are compared to the parcels not connected to a map, but can be used to build and share an own creation. In Protoworld this is similar, you are able to create your individual zone and you can place NFTs (own creations and those from your collection) to a wall etc. to then invite others by sharing a link.

via https://docs.protoworld.io/guides/build – Copyrights @ protoworld.io

Setting up your Protoworld zone

Protoworld has launched a ‘Pre-Alpha’, which is not publicly open. You will have to apply for early access by filling out a form. It was not a problem to do so and the positive response with the invite was quick. Note that you need a Tezos (or Ethereum) account / address, but the following review was done based on Tezos.

After your application got successfully reviewed you’ll most probably will receive a DM via Twitter (or E-Mail). You will be invited to join their discord and you should be able to connect to Protoworld via wallet.

The basics

Once you’re in, you can choose yourself a fancy username and an avatar based on your NFTs. It seems that no other pictures or any blockhain related profiles are supported here, but NFTs – for instance a metaBohème PFP NFT 🙂

Optimized for PFP – NFT based Avatar

Btw. – the NFT you choose will later be used for your 3D avatar as well …

To view your avatar, you can toggle with ‘v’ between first / third person view

To set up your zone details you can add some infos like description, title and an image for the preview. The Protoworld section ‘Explore’ allows users to explore the zones created by others via protoworld.io/explorer. You should test it, because it’s really fun to explore the various zones, created by artists you potentially already know from other platforms.

Configuration of your zone

In sum, the configuration of the basic information is pretty straight forward and can be done quickly. Now the creative part begins …

Zone Design

Your zone is a more or less empty space when you first enter. This better needs to be changed, I guess: so why not start building something awesome 🙂

To do so, you have two main options: NFTs and Archis.

Building blocks: archis

Archis are primitives like cubes or spheres and some other structures (see above), which you can use to build your scene. Right now, there is a limited set of four different materials you can choose for the archis. Nevertheless, the current set of forms and materials is a good starting point for building your zone. The placement itself is straight forward and you can use the mouse-wheel (or mouse-wheel + ctrl) to change the archi selection (or material selection) without opening the menu. You should press ‘Q’ to make yourself familiar with the available actions / options of the building mode.

via https://docs.protoworld.io/guides/build – Copyrights @ protoworld.io

The other (and btw. pretty powerful) option for decorating your zone is: NFTs.

Protoworld supports GLTF / GLB format which allows you to add 3D models to your scene. I was surprised that even relatively complex objects can be added. And that’s adding some nice options to the built-in archi feature, because it gives you an extra degree of freedom in designing your scene. It appears, that all of your created 3D models needs to be minted first. You cannot mint new objects in Protoworld. But you could do this via Teia or tz1and for example. Teia allows you to mint relatively complex models as NFTs, with tz1and (which is a new virtual world platform as well) you are limited to a lower complexity. The objects minted on Teia nd tz1and are supported on Protoworld and could be added in our test. Because Protoworld is not having a minting capability itself (by now) the support of other contracts (or NFTs minted through other contracts) is crucial, if you want to (re-) use your own creations for building your zone.

I tell you, the result of using GLTF objects in your zone can be awesome. Even though it can be a bit tricky to place an object exactly in the way you want to, it is amazing that you can use a complex 3D model and scale it to gigantic dimensions, if you like. If you take a look at the Protoworld lobby you get an idea of how this might look. Height is a dimension which you should consider to make use of 🙂 And the zones are really, really high …

Some artists used their 3D creations to build the whole scene like an artwork which you can literally explore via walk-through. You will find huge sculptures, animated 3D objects or items which have been created based on photogrammetry.

But besides all this, you can of course hang your non-3d NFTs as well …


Many of the NFTs connected to your wallet will be supported here. And that’s important, because it can be very frustrating if you only can use a small subset of your created or collected NFTs. Not sure whether the teztok indexer was used in the background, but a lot of NFTs will appear in Protoworld and that’s good!

So if you want to place one of your NFTs within your zone, you simply have to press ‘n’ while you are in the builder mode (toggle this via ‘b’) and the NFT viewer will pop up, so that you pick one.

NFT Viewer for selecting an NFT you want to place to your zone

The search for the NFT of choice is semi-optimal at this phase of the project, at least if you have a bigger collection. I know from other projects that the handling of bigger collections imply fine-tuning for those functionalities, so it’s ok and nothing to complain about in that stage. It just means, that the search is not really 100% mature and there are still some glitches and performance aspects to tackle. In addition, the preview of NFTs connected to a bigger amount of assets typically requires a loading / caching strategy and a good approach for compression. the same is true for the (initial) loading of NFTs which are already placed to the zone, because the loading time of the overall scene has an impact on the user experience of course, especially on the visitor experience. In sum, the features connected to the NFT search and loading need to climb up a bit on the maturity curve, but it’s really nice to see which NFTs are supported already. You can use 3d models, 2d content and video (unfortunately, I haven’t tested interactive content or sound yet … for sound, oncyber would be a good benchmark).

The placement of NFTs is working more or less similar to placing archis, besides one major difference: archis come along with bounding boxes which allow that objects can be placed onto others. This makes it easier to build a structure or a floor based on many archis, because you don’t have to care about overlap etc. Building structures based on archis is a bit like playing with Lego® bricks. For NFTs that’s a different story. You can place an object (the NFT) whereever you want – like, even in a wall and not only above, below and besides another 3d object or primitive. That gives you a lot of freedom in creation, so I think it’s a good design choice here. On the other hand, it’s a bit tricky if you want to hand 2d images to the wall. You perhaps would expect, that the frame (which will be added implicitly) surrounding the NFT would snap to a wall, but that’s not the case. It makes sense, but it complicates the alignment of objects as well. Oncyber did a great job in handling the alignment of objects towards each other, so that users are able to hang their art with a sense of symmetry and proportion etc. That’s where Protoworld can potentially be improved a bit. As said, you can place your NFT everywhere right now, so that it requires more attention and nerves from the user to hang items with an eye on heights, distances, symmetries etc. But it’s perfectly ok for an early version and definitely no showstopper in using it, because it produces a high flexibility on the other side.

A hint before you build your scene: You should know that avatars have a fixed size and will collide with archis in your zone. This is how it should be, because you don’t want to fall through the floor. BUT! … the archi objects / primitives are not bigger than your actual avatar, so that you need to test how many you need to build a structure which you can enter. Some archis perhaps imply that you could place them and use as a door/tunnel etc. For instance the wall with a whole in it. But you will not be able to walk through! Keep that in mind, because otherwise you find yourself in front of a tiny house which you cannot enter 🙂 This happened to me first.

Overall impression

Protoworld Pre-Alpha is a very solid start and a really enjoyable experience!

The support of NFT contracts under the hood is great and it’s awesome how you can make use of your individual 3D content. There are some glitches here and there and some features should perhaps evolve a bit, but the overall usability and functionality is good and the tools are easy to learn.

Minting and selling is not possible right now. But that’s not a problem as there are more than enough alternatives. NFTs right now will open up a link to objkt.

Visually the built-in building blocks would benefit from a higher flexibility regarding the materials (e.g. texture uploads … ?), but the archis itself are a very good starting point. Many aspects can be imagined as feature candidates for the future – from lighting to custom materials, more archis etc., but it’s a great realized scope of the alpha version which was delivered here.

The overall performance is good! It’s no pain to enter your zone via Browser. Still, you are limited to a proper desktop setup with a modern client / Browser, a bit of modern hardware and good internet connection. The lighting, the rendering of your objects and other details like the movement speed or the avatar representation, everything is very promising in this early version.

It will be interesting to see what people of the community create on Protoworld and I am very curious what features will follow. In the current Pre-Alpha, the team behind Protoworld is collecting feedback from the early birds of the community. Independent of what the future will bring, Protoworld did a great job so far!

You should definitely give this virtual world a try and check it out.

Btw. you can of course follow the Protoworld Twitter feed to stay up-to-date.

One last thing: Please visit the createBar / Teriell zone on Protoworld, which was the testing foundation for this post. And if you like – leave your feedback on either Protoworld or the Teriell zone in the comments 🙂