Announcing The Mirror

Growing up, I built 3D models as a kid for fun in Bryce 5. I quickly ran into a problem: What’s next?

Announcing The Mirror

Growing up, I built 3D models as a kid for fun in Bryce 5. I quickly ran into a problem: What’s next? Do I show it to my parents and to my friends? I once printed off a picture of a beach scene I created and brought it to my 3rd grade class, which my teacher graciously taped to the whiteboard for the class to see. But that was it.

There wasn’t much of a game plan for a 3rd grader unless I was willing to A) Try to sell the assets online myself or B) Pitch them to an animation studio or game developer. I wanted to do more, so I mowed lawns until I had enough money to buy a gaming laptop. In 2007, I discovered Second Life and it solved my problem to a T. There, I built an online business selling scripts and 3D models and it helped me cut my teeth with coding at an early age.

Bryce 5, ~2001

One of the downfalls of my business in Second Life was copybotting, a banned program that allows someone to copy (read: steal) 3D models from their creators and resell them. I even went to great lengths writing anti-copybot scripts, hidden in nested primitives of the objects. Nevertheless, one of my greatest works was copybotted one day. The full story is for another blog post, but it’s important to note that validated authorship can be solved through technologies like NFTs. Though this technology has been rife with scams, it may be able to solve the age-old problem of digital asset scarcity and traceable ownership. However, the approach must be done right.

Building in Second Life

Since the SL business, I’ve been thinking about building a Second Life V2 for over 15 years. When I was in Texas for Thanksgiving this past year, I wrote a rough somewhat-organized 30 page thought dump, sent it to Micah and Alec, and asked them on the phone: “Do you think I’m crazy? It’s mind-boggling to me that no one has done this yet… This just might work.” I dropped everything to plunge into founding The Mirror full-time in January — and I had an amazing job with an A+ stellar team at OpenStore. I’m incredibly grateful to have worked with them.

For The Mirror, our initial vision was a platform for users to build 3D models and sell them in-world, but we decided to take it a step further and build a real-time game development platform. Anything you build will be interoperable with other Mirror Spaces. You could build a red sports car in Blender and publish a full-blown racing game in The Mirror. Later, you could drive your favorite car into your buddy’s medieval RPG, creating never-seen-before digital realities using Mirror Assets.

Play-to-earn has taken off, but it’s half-baked: You’re still exchanging your time for money, and that’s it (not to mention that adding microtransactions might ruin the gaming experience). What if, instead, you invest your time and get paid to learn? You learn to write code, create 3D models, host websites, build APIs, talk to databases, and more.

I owe Second Life a big thank you for giving incentives to learn to code, and I hope The Mirror can do the same for many people. I’ve been inspired by people making a living with crypto games during pandemic lockdowns, and I think we can propel this phenomenon much further by helping people get paid to learn, simultaneously chipping away at sky-high costs of education.

I’m a living example of this model: I didn’t study computer science in college. Everything I’ve learned about programming has been through free market incentives like creating an online business, launching apps, and teaching bootcamps (teaching is the best way to learn). I also can’t thank enough those who have encouraged me, from the razor-sharp, awesome individuals at SpaceX to my mentors, peers, and family.

As a software engineer myself, even if you have the most fantastic time writing code and building in The Mirror, I’ll still be one of the first to encourage you to workout, spend quality time with friends and family in-person, and go to the beach — and that’s coming from a guy who has a blast writing code until 4am on a Saturday night.

We can sit back and let the "metaverse" trend become Pottersville, or we can build George Bailey Park. We can let it become a circus or we can help people learn to code, 3D model, design graphics and textures and worlds, and help them learn some of the most in-demand skillsets in the world. This picture hangs in our office.

The final scene from It’s a Wonderful Life

Our team is fantastic and I’m incredibly grateful to have them on board, along with being VC-backed by Florida Funders and other unannounced VCs. We have many exciting announcements coming soon!

I hope to see you in The Mirror. Thank you.

Jared McCluskey

P.S. Want to get involved? Heres how:

  • Closed Alpha: We’re accepting applications at https://themirror.space
  • The Team: We’re hiring the best game developers in the world. Interested? Email us at careers (at) themirror.space
  • Partnerships & Education: partnerships (at) themirror.space
  • Discord: https://themirror.space/discord

Full disclosure: This post has been edited from its original version to clarify its intent. See the next post for details.

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The future is in the mirror. I hope these reflections will be useful to you.
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