The internet epoch marked a profound shift in our relationship with technology. Prior to the widespread availability of the internet, most people’s interactions with technology were limited to physical devices such as televisions, radios, and telephones. These devices provided limited information and entertainment, but they were largely passive technologies that required the user to consume content rather than actively engage with it. With the advent of the internet, however, technology became much more interactive and immersive, allowing users to connect and collaborate through digital technology in ways that previously were thought to be impossible.
Years later, when blockchain emerged in 2008 out of Satoshi’s white paper, it took one step further to create the first digital communities ever — the Metaverse, a parallel digital universe where users can interact in a decentralized and autonomous fashion. While the initial aim was to address the need for secure value transfer in a rapidly digitizing world, the true potential of blockchain was yet to be brought forth. Groundbreaking Metasites, customizable digital spaces that offer unparalleled personalization and immersive experiences, were the ones to open doors to endless opportunities, enabling novel business models and social experiences within its decentralized framework. The rapid evolution of these digital worlds exemplifies the transformative potential of blockchain technology and the internet epoch.
XLA, the innovative blockchain-powered platform, was the first one to revolutionize the 3D internet space with their new development, Metasites. This modular 3D internet framework enables individual creators to deploy their Unreal Engine-built content and connect it to the XLA ecosystem of features and services. Metasites allows for an infinite network of 3D, explorable spaces connected by portals, providing users with a unique and engaging experience. XLA is all set to launch its Closed Beta this Summer, with the full commercial release expected in Q4 2023.
To witness the future of the internet with XLA’s Metasites, I approached the CPO of the project, XLA’s Chief Product Officer, Alexey Savchenko, who recently presented the demo version of Metasites to the general public at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. I posed him a few questions about the operation of Metasites within the framework of the XLA ecosystem, as well as asked to share reflections on the future trajectory of internet development.
Hello, Alexey! Thanks for joining me for the interview. Now, could you please introduce yourself, and tell a few words about your engagement with XLA?
Hello hello, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Aleksey Savchenko, I’m the Chief Product Officer of Metasites at XLA. I’ve been around the tech and gaming industries for about 25 years, mostly on the production and business development side. Launched about a dozen of products to the market over this time, worked in companies like GSC Game World and Epic Games. I’m also a virtual simulation researcher and published author. We have started to work together with XLA about a year ago, when company founder, Shurick Agapitov, brought me in to work on the Metasites project.
What inspired XLA to create the Metasites project, and what problem does it solve in the current market?
Well, a dream as always. Lots of people in the company share the idea of a revenue share economy and are tech enthusiasts, who are really into cutting edge modern technology. Metasites in some sense is a framework that consists of three large parts, – Unreal Engine/PixelStream/AWS framework that allows to build infinite interconnected 3D locations in the the cloud, sandbox for experimental tech and narratives and ecosystem of services and protocols to connect all this together. Metaistes introduces a new form of medium both fun to communicate with, but also, very simple to create. Big part of our mission is to simplify complex toolsets like UE and other services people could use at the same level they use WiX to build on the web to make sure everyone has instant access to both deployment of unique and immersive experiences they build and explore other people’s work.
Can you walk us through the technical details of the Metasites framework, and how it bridges the gap between the Metaverse and AI?
Ok, sure. So, while there are 3D space environments in the cloud, we have also integrated Artificial Intelligence at two layers. There is a general control module at GPT, but it also manages multiple, potentially infinite personalised agents, characters whose relationship is simulated as the society. I mean, they all have spatial awareness, time context, families, friends, relationships, hobbies, they produce news, they can reach you our by your phone, etc. Some time ago, I wrote this book called Cyberside. There is a part of it that says that artificial intelligence has evolved by communicating with humans to agents, that can be perceptive at the same level humans are in this environment, this is something we are trying to recreate really. Outside of AI, we are implementing a whole number of tools and services, as plugins and SDK functionality, some of which can be called quite innovative, we are talking stuff like voice assistants, synthetic media, semantic analyses and cloud functionalities stuff mostly, but also some very deep tech cool new protocols and solutions I would like to keep an intrigue for a little bit of time.
What benefits does the Metasites project offer for individual creators and enterprise clients — and how does the revenue-sharing model work?
Well, it’s a new photorealistic perpetually existing medium that belongs to the creator and the company, that is connected to soon, hundreds and thousands of others. People visit them, can be informed, advertised with goods, provided with an opportunity to buy and sell virtual and real objects, engage into events and experiences, communicate and work together. From the point of view of the users, you can chat and talk with your friends and traverse a literally infinite universe of 3D spaces, eac unique and interesting. You can go through them quickly, using portals or stay longer and explore for interesting stuff. Optionally, owners can monetize any of those functionalities. Us, being a service company are here to provide those services and opportunities and grow SDK and feature set to make it all even more simple for creators, while owners make most of the revenue out of it.
What kind of virtual assets will be available within the Metasites ecosystem, and how will they be traded and managed?
But, it’s really mostly anything, from clothes and cross-domain items that might have different functionality in different spaces. We also provide each creator with their own free space we refer to as a personal domain or the metasite you can freely modify with acquired items the way you really want. Revenue share relationships are fixed with RSC blockchain contracts, so everything gets logged and secured by that tool.
What role does OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 play in the Metasites project, and how does it enhance the functionality and capabilities of the ecosystem?
I have mentioned characters and the NPC approach we are using, but it’s not just that. Tools created with AI now form the whole new type of tools available for creators and developers and we are intending to integrate as much of those as possible for the convenience of our audience. I honestly believe that we are now at the times that new tools will empower the whole new cohort of virtual entrepreneurs in services, experiences and co-working/co-creation segment and combination of AI and 3D is the key to it.
How does XLA plan to build and engage with a community of creators, users, and partners within the Metasites ecosystem?
We are currently working at creators SDK and a number of convenience integrations like Discord, Twitch, social networks and other tools people are using to create content nowadays and aiming to present to creators community in V1 already this summer. We are also looking to provide creators with better deals, better tools and a very quickly growing audience to work with and monetize their hard work.
In light of Metasites development with integrated 3D internet frameworks, how do you see the trajectory of internet development in the years to come?
More accessible at all platforms, quicker, more saturated, 3D, innovative easy interface creators tools. I think that people will also be spending more time virtually. More distributed architectures, based on blockchain, peer to peer stuff. Capability versus alignment is an interesting challenge, another one is actually an infrastructure to serve all of those growing demands and audiences, I mean, protocols, supply of electricity and growing deficits in some departments are all other challenges to overcome.
What is XLA’s vision for the future of the Metasites project, and how do they plan to evolve and expand the ecosystem over time?
Coolest part is, it’s a potentially infinite scale project. We are obviously looking to scale in content as quickly as possible to reach the first 200 metasites and then 1000, then, the system will go into larger stages of scale. Growing SDK and increasing its feature set for devs is another priority. We want more tools and tech partnerships as well. On the content side, there will be a whole bunch of very cool projects with awesome IPs and Brands with unique functionalities. It’s a lot to come in upcoming months, so stay tuned. We are looking to start some closed beta testing already in a few months, come by and check what we have to offer. We are also looking for early commercial launch already this year and this is planned for Q4.