Expanding Horizon: New Funding to Support Creators

Oculus Blog
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October 7, 2021
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When we launched Horizon’s invite-only beta last year, we started to build a creator-friendly space in VR with best-in-class social world-building tools. We’ve spent the past year developing those tools and improving them based on creator feedback. These early creators have grown the social experiences on the Horizon platform, and we’ve been amazed by their imagination and creativity on display. We’re excited to do more to support them, so starting today, we’re launching new initiatives to recognize the efforts of Horizon creators and continue to grow the creator and developer community.

We’re announcing a $10 million Creator Fund to encourage more people to come build with us as we continue rolling out Horizon Worlds in beta. And as we grow the social experiences that are part of Horizon—and to better reflect the diverse spaces Horizon creators have developed over the last year—we’re rolling out a new name for this experience: Horizon Worlds.

Horizon Worlds Evolution

Over the past year, we've shipped a number of new features in Horizon Worlds that have made it easier to create complex worlds and greatly expanded the ceiling of what experiences are possible to build. Have you had an idea for a game or experience and just never had the right toolset to bring that vision to life? If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own paintball game, social hangout space, a mind-bending escape room, a collection of party games, or even a racing experience where you fly through a city on a broom, this is the time to join Horizon Worlds and build with us.

We redesigned our creation tools UI and interactions to make the most common creator workflows more efficient and intuitive. Through new textures and improved object snapping, artists and designers are now able to bring complex environments and characters to life with greater ease. Our scripting updates have unlocked a wide variety of new VR mechanics and gameplay that scripters and programmers can use to bring their ideas to life—whether it’s using custom locally-scripted physics to craft a paper airplane or building a competitive team-based game with persistent XP progression, the only limit is your imagination.

We’re working to bring even more tools and features to the community soon, like a new feature for projectile launching mechanics and global leaderboards. We’re also building full game experiences to share with creators as templates so that they won’t need to start from scratch when making a new world. And we’ll soon be launching an educational hub to provide new creators with everything they need to get started quickly and give experienced creators helpful tutorials to level-up their worlds.

The Horizon Worlds Creator Fund

As we kick off the next phase of Horizon Worlds, our $10 million Creator Fund will provide additional support and resources for developers and creators. Over the next year, we’ll distribute these funds in a few different ways:

Community Competitions: Later this year, we’ll launch a series of creator competitions to reward people building the very best worlds in Horizon and who are taking advantage of the tools we offer. We’ll offer up to $10K in cash prizes for the first-, second-, and third-place winners, and we’ll share more details on these competitions soon. You can sign up here to be notified when we launch our first competition.

Accelerator Program: We’ll also continue with our Creator Accelerator Program, an application-based initiative designed to give people from diverse backgrounds an advanced crash course in Horizon Worlds creation. The Creator Accelerator Program also gives people a unique opportunity to attain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a professional environment, including a session we held that focused on building more inclusive worlds. We just wrapped up the pilot class of this program, and we’ll begin accepting applications next month for an expanded Creator Accelerator Program set to kick off in early 2022.

Funding For Developers: Last but not least, our product teams have been working closely with a handful of external developers to explore the range of possibilities for content in Horizon Worlds. Earlier this year, we worked with developers on the theme of cooperative mini-games that are easy to learn and hard to master for two to four players. If you're a developer, studio, or creator and you’re interested in partnering with us for funded opportunities to create experiences for Horizon in a particular theme, you can sign-up to learn more about the next set of themes here.

Interested in building for Horizon Worlds and participating in these exciting new opportunities? You can sign up here to be notified when we open up these opportunities.

Creators in Focus

We’re thrilled to see how game designers have fast-tracked the creation of VR experiences, while community leaders have built social hangout spots that bring people together. Here’s a look at a handful of the creators who have been using our tools to build in Horizon Worlds so far:

  • An artist and art historian, Paige Dansinger has been building in Horizon Worlds since the pre-alpha phase. She’s built roughly 150 worlds to date, including Horizon Art Museum, Purple Flower Survivors, and Horizon Future Farms. “​Right away when I started working in Horizon, I knew it was really important,” Dansigner says. “I live in Downtown Minneapolis, and my city was the epicenter of a complete breakdown of social structure this past year. Our community felt broken. And as a community leader, I knew that I couldn’t just go on a road trip or escape. All of a sudden, there was COVID, and my city was burning, and my heart was breaking. So I would turn to Facebook Horizon and I would create these spaces where I knew that I needed to go emotionally in order to continue to be the museum director that I am. I used the building tools in Horizon to build more resilience!”

  • A CPA by trade, Ashley Briley lives and breathes spreadsheets, but her combined love of music and sci-fi brought her to VR via Beat Saber. “The fact that they had a game that makes you a sci-fi hero cutting blocks to music, that brought me to Oculus,” she says. Drawn to Horizon Worlds by her nostalgia for The Sims, Briley was able to pick up the scripting in Horizon Worlds thanks to its similarity to how the syntax works when writing functions in Excel. “Building in Horizon Worlds is like opening a Pandora’s box—but a good one—because every time I think I understand what’s possible, I get surprised by something new,” she says. “I just keep learning things every day.”

  • For Matt Torres, his first exposure to user-generated content came from playing LittleBigPlanet. “I would sit there and build for hours,” he says. From introductory programming courses in college and an internship doing web development to working his way up the ladder to become a principal software engineer, Torres has picked up quite a bit of scripting and programming along the way. When Horizon Worlds was announced, he thought it sounded like an interesting social VR experience. It wasn’t until the beta opened that he realized it was also centered around creation and world building. “It’s neat to be able to draw inspiration from the people around you,” Torres says. “Even when they’re not with you, you still feel connected to them by being able to create their persona.”

  • IT Project Manager by day, mobile DJ by night, Carlos Silva (Oculos410) explored Horizon Worlds for a solid month before diving into the creation tools. “I’ve never scripted anything and surely not built anything in VR before. It was really intimidating because I’m typically not the builder—I’m the one with all the ideas,” he explains. Carlos spends most of his time playtesting and collaborating with other world creators, as well as leading the “Horizon World Tours” Community Event, touring exciting new worlds every week. “It really blew my mind going from connecting and reshaping these squares together to form a simple maze to now having an entire environment for people to join and check out all these incredible worlds built by people just like you and me,” he says. “It’s really important to be able to provide a welcoming environment for everyone and for new and returning players to experience what Horizon Worlds is really all about. The core to Horizon Worlds is the community. I’ve made so many genuine friendships through Horizon Worlds. When we meet up, it feels like travelling together to a faraway place or just meeting up at the local hang out spot, compared to how disconnected we’ve become through just online chat and messaging. I’m so grateful and excited to be a part of Horizon Worlds as a creator, collaborator, and Tours curator as a part of the beta. I can’t wait to see what's next and hope to be able to share it with you at an event someday soon!”

  • “Art has always been a part of my background and always a part of me,” says John Mclay. “So I really liked it when I found an outlet for that in Horizon Worlds. The building tools were fantastic and intuitive—even the scripting mechanisms were easy enough for me to not feel intimidated, yet robust enough for me to expand once I got a good grasp on it. I was really impressed with the ease with which you can get into it and then the depth thereafter.” Mclay also appreciates that all of the tools in Horizon Worlds are available equally to anyone with access. “Anyone with a Quest 2 has all the hardware they need to create any world that they see in Horizon Worlds,” he says. “It’s a wonderful democratization—everyone is on equal footing. I think that’s pretty cool.”

  • A meditation instructor since 2004, Kiernan Pearce first got into VR about a year ago—and they’ve built a number of worlds in Horizon Worlds since then. “All of my worlds are about mental health, either directly or indirectly,” they say. “They’re all about making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves because while we’re in VR—and we’re very social—it can still be isolating at times. So I always want people to know they’re never alone.” Pearce has even branched out to Horizon Workrooms and is excited for Zoom to be integrated in the future. “I really wish that everyone who has a disability could get a VR headset,” they add. “I’m disabled, and it allows me to not be disabled. I can run, jump, and climb in VR, and no one knows that I’m sick. I really wish that everybody could have access to that.”

  • A world-building team, Alex (Laex05) and Jordan (MeRcOttE27, aka Merc) actually met in Horizon Worlds. “We definitely have one thing in common in our lives, and it’s the desire to help others,” says Merc. “When I met Laex, he just blew me away because he was like, ‘I know all this stuff. Do you want to learn it?’ He was so giving with all this knowledge, and he wanted to spread it. I started helping Laex with his YouTube Channel so everyone can learn what we know.” “If we can get this knowledge out there, then it’ll help grow Horizon Worlds,” Laex adds. “In the beginning, it was very rare to see a world that was scripted. So getting that information out there, I knew, would immediately blow up because we’d have way richer experiences inside of Horizon Worlds if we could share all that. And so, from Day One, it was like, ‘OK, I’m going to give away everything I create, all of my knowledge, just give it away because that’s going to help everybody and, in turn, it helps me, too.”