Occupy White Walls is an enthralling virtual gallery MMO

OWW header

A while ago I took a stroll around the Zium Museum, a virtual gallery curated by Michael Berto. “There needs to be more stuff like this in videogames!”, said commenter ‘Quasiotter’. Quasio’s wish has been granted: Occupy White Walls is an upcoming MMO where you can build your own architecturally ambitious art gallery and showcase it to the world. If all goes well there should soon be thousands of the things, all hooked up to a fancy AI doodad that promises to learn what kind of art you’re into based on what you spend your time looking at.

It’s in free public alpha at the moment, and I’ll straight up implore you to have a look at my wanderings below, then check out OWW for yourself. This is going to be special.

The idea is that every player curates their own gallery, and earns in-game money to expand their collection based on how many visitors they get. There are 800 architectural assets in at the moment, with plans to add thousands more. Once your white walls or otherwise are in place, you can adorn them with “hundreds of thousands” of artworks, which are currently limited to works from the 18th and 19th centuries.

It’s worth mentioning that I wouldn’t describe myself as being ‘into’ art. I’ve got a neat chrome extension that puts something interesting in my new tab page every day, but it only captures my attention once in a blue moon. I also have next to no interest in creating my own gallery, and I’ll probably leave that part of the game entirely alone.

Nevertheless, I find something magical about OWW.

The light.

OWW light

The dark.

OWW dark

The disco rain.

OWW disco rain

I’ve spent all my time so far exploring different spaces by pressing the “random” button, which whisks you off to a fresh gallery. It’s largely that sense of discovery that I’m enamoured with, I think. The game’s only in alpha but the tools are already in here for other players to have crafted me surprise after surprise, and it’s thrilling to imagine how strange these spaces might become later down the line.

I love how some people are determined to fill every nook and cranny of their exhibits with a deluge of portraits.

OWW Busy

While others adopt a minimalist approach.

OWW sparse

Here’s a closeup of the piece on that wall, seen as I dig it so much. There’s probably something clever/wanky to be written about framing, and the impact that OWW’s mode of discovery has on how we might absorb and be affected by the pieces we find in it. For now I’m content to just look at ’em.

OWW View of Cagnes

Here’s another closeup that shows off the comments feature, which I’m surprised to find is usually delightful rather than puerile. Why IS that baby getting zapped?

OWW Cathedral of art

That said, there are the inevitable flesh obsessed galleries with scantily clad ladies from floor to ceiling. They make me respect this fella all the more for his tasteful sequestering.

OWW tasteful nudes

Unfortunately, I took these screens before learning of a way to hide that pesky chat UI. Pro tip: F8 puts you in cinematic mode.

For me, the lure of OWW revolves around discovery in more ways than one. I can’t speak to its effectiveness yet, but the learning AI’s potential to show me artworks based on my personal preferences is something I can’t help but get excited about. It’s the kind of technology that could, if it works, open up aesthetic worlds to me and thousands of others that we’d never have encountered otherwise. The same applies to OWW as a whole.

For now you’re limited to choosing artworks from the existing database, though once the game reaches its beta phase the devs hope to allow artists to upload their own work. D.A.I.S.Y, that AI I was just telling you about, will then be able to help put their work in front of the people that are most likely to buy it. As far as I can tell, there’s no word on how long OWW will spend in alpha.

If you are interested in creating your own gallery, then here’s a handy tutorial so you can make me some spaces to explore. Seriously: share your OWW name in the comments and I should be able to check out what you make, then if enough of you get involved at some point I’ll do a post showcasing your stuff.

Here’s the trailer, though I’m dropping it at the end because for some reason it didn’t really sell me on the idea. It might be that the magic only really kicks in once you start exploring for yourself.

19 Comments

  1. brucethemoose says:

    Sweet!

    The real trick is filtering out several dozen phallic and spam posts for every legit submission, especially if the game hits some kind of popularity critical mass. Maybe the (neural net?) AI can help with that, but tagging art is already hard enough for humans, and the line has to be fuzzy when dealing with player-made nude art.

    • April March says:

      I dunno. As you said, it’s art. If someone were to fill their gallery floor-to-ceiling with poorly-sculpted dicks, that wouldn’t be all that different from a lot of art installations that were bought and paid for.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Poorly sculpted dicks would be better than nicely sculpted ones. That would give the gallery some variety, at least.

        Seeing cleverly disguised “work from home” gallieries fill up the browser worries me more, but I guess that’s far less likely. Maybe impossible, since the game won’t support linking URLs if the devs are halfway sane. Political hate “art” is another possibility, and you don’t need a URL for that.

        • R.A.Helllord says:

          If I understand the article correctly in order for those things to be recommended they must be interesting enough that people would actually spend time actively looking at them.
          This is probably going to end up like graffiti in bigger towns, the talentless scribbles are ignored in favor of the actually sophisticated works.

          There’s also the argument to be made that hatred is still a human emotion, and not any less valid than any other emotion. So if an artist uses that emotion to create actual art why should it be directly disqualified just for that? It should still get a chance to stand on its own, and be judged on its own merits like everything else.

  2. ImagoMagic says:

    I´ve been playing the game for like a month now and I think the AI is not so much about specifically tagging but as suggesting art other people who likes the same art pieces you like enjoys, too, so I guess filtering low quality images will be easy when uploading stuff is available. Up to now, and playing with the Met collection I managed to avoid some specific artists I don´t like already :)
    The game is fun, the creative mode has so may possibilities (For me at least, I´m enjoying lots playing it)

  3. racccoon says:

    None of this helps art as its turns it into a digital wasteland.

  4. April March says:

    I love this already.

  5. MinstaKatten says:

    Just a word of warning: The game has no option to invert mouse y-axis at the moment.

  6. BiggerJ says:

    Actually, the lines “Tons of 19th-century art” and “Tons of 18th-century art and so on” imply earlier centuries are also represented, which includes the Renaissance, man.

  7. Robert The Rebuilder says:

    I’ll state the obvious, since others have not yet done so.

    OWW is MMO upside-down.

  8. Strielok says:

    Hi there everyone!
    I’m in OWW for a while now and I did my 4th gallery.
    This time it’s more realistic. Be aware in my galleries FPS drops like a fly without wings ;)
    Step in to Strielok gallery and have a good time.

  9. yulia says:

    Hi, People!

    The header image in this post was made in my gallery ;) , so I’m a bit famous )))
    Come and check yulia gallery, and don’t miss my “Weird room”!

    Btw, that’s the video tour to my gallery: link to youtu.be

  10. Pumpkikin says:

    link to media.discordapp.net

    Come visit the 4 million bit gallery ~ The Infinity Patch!
    My Username is Pumpkikin.

  11. synal56 says:

    My gallery is constantly growing, it’s elegant and a little bit abstract so if you want you can visit my gallery. My ingame nickname is synal56

  12. psylentz says:

    Howdy! New wings are being added weekly at my gallery, go visit psylentz, please and thank you!

  13. Sky_Of_Indra says:

    Hi everyone! I’m playing this game since the very first version (my first gallery name was Alnilam). Well, all I can say is that this is an amazing game with a great potential. It could really change the way Art is seen and enjoyed on the web. If you want, you can visit my gallery, called “Sky Of Indra”.