May 13, 2024

Inside Cluster, The Social VR Platform From Japan

Ready for an expanded adventure? Get ready for a new kind of worldhop with Cluster.

Inside Cluster, The Social VR Platform From Japan
World: Gray Valley by けーぜ

Are you in need of more platforms to round out your VR worldhopping experience? Cluster might scratch that itch for you. It isn't quite the same as VRChat, but it's pretty close in its concept to make it comfortable to visit.

Cluster is a Japanese social VR platform that primarily caters to content creators and streamers. Within its system, though, are some pretty amazing ideas that other platforms should be paying attention to.

Cluster's lobby map, which is its town square. Here's how it looked during New Years celebrations. People watching on the lobby map is pretty great.

Supporting Mobile To Full-Body VR

Yep! Cluster supports it all. Iphone, Android, Ipad, Quest, and PCVR. It connects with OSC if you use that, too. When you log into Cluster, you'll see users both on mobile and in full-body. It's a real trip seeing different players connecting with different means, all coalescing in the game's town center-style lobby.

On mobile, users are able to move their hands in a simple manner in order to wave to others. Emotes are limited, so they aren't the pretty particle effects that VRChat has. But in place of that is a built-in CDN; performers can simply connect their display to broadcast whatever they want. You might walk in on a map featuring someone drawing in an art program, or a DJ crate-digging casually while talking with friends.

The drawback is the lack of Youtube/media link support, but the CDN lets you bring up videos on your display as you please. Cluster's system is actually meant to house original content, so you'll have to decide which platform meets your broadcasting needs.

Cluster's mobile app is worth downloading even if you play primarily on PCVR. Its app contains its own social network. You can even discover new people to follow from its public photo-sharing pool.

Sometimes you'll find media personalities in Cluster hosting special events. It feels so normal, it's like looking into the future.

A Developing Commerce

Cluster has an in-house furniture and accessory store. While users can upload custom maps with Cluster's SDK kit, users who don't have the time or the skill can buy furniture from Cluster's marketplace to assemble maps quickly. There's no light baking on maps assembled live, but that's the drawback for convenience. Users build maps with both methods, so it doesn't feel like live building is crowding out SDK maps or vice versa. For content creators, live map editing can be highly useful for shooting small skits and videos with simple backdrops.

The prop shop enables users to buy different accessories, from hats to wings to cigarettes and more, to attach to their avatars on the fly. Anyone can upload items to sell the furniture and prop shop, but Cluster is still working on how to pay out profits to its growing English community.

Here's a map where I found some items for sale just by clicking on an object:

Shops in Cluster tend to organically place products for sale. Let's hope it stays this way.

It makes it easy for asset creators to sell items both in-game and on sites like Booth. I think this idea is something that should be adapted to as many platforms as possible. This would diversify offerings and encourage spending, making the monetized side of social VR a lot more organic and naturally enjoyable. I'd sooner buy a prop than access to a room, but each user will be different in their preferences.


A World Of Music

There's music everywhere. No joke. Singers, DJs, performance groups, you name it. There are so many that it's like being lost in a city full of talent.

Parties in Cluster can appear throughout the day. If it's a rave you want, sometimes you'll have to look at the "hot" menu to see if a group of people are gathered somewhere interesting. Cluster has a built-in events system that shows live events, should a user officially choose to host one. Venues in Cluster do exist, but parties can equally be pop-up based without an official announcement.

If you choose to host an event, the listing can possibly make it to the town square events sign, where other players will see it right away. Other times, there are players who will stand around in the lobby with giant signs like this:

Actually, this one is kind of extreme...

If you just want to grab a mic and sing your heart out for anyone to listen, the town square lobby boasts three different stages with microphones. Buskers in Cluster are welcome, and often many of them have a presence in VRChat too.


If you're just getting started in Cluster, there's a basic avatar system to tide you over until you can upload something that makes you happy. Some people can make the basic system work, but it wasn't my personal cup of tea. Cluster's avatar limits also put a cap on how complex a custom upload can be, so a Gumroad avatar with a bunch of drawcalls sadly won't work out here.

The silver lining is that creativity is what makes a user stand out on the platform, not the level of detail on their avatar. While Booth avatars have made it to Cluster, it's more common to see VRoids running around. Often times the VRoid avatars are very unique looking and have cool accessories attached to them through the prop system. Avatar scaling isn't in Cluster yet, but it is nice to see everyone in a room without having a monster PC.

World: 8LEGS DINER V2 by 8LEGS 姉 (れぐねえ)

Cluster's Worlds Are Now Growing More Complex

As predicted before, different platforms might aim to offer different things to stand out this year, but worldbuilders are going to create as they please. Cluster's worlds are developing their own style, but sometimes they remain indistinguishable from VRChat.

One very cool build I keep seeing over and over in Cluster is the single room statement. These rooms exist in VRChat as well, but Cluster's single-room builds can be highly atmospheric:

World: 6 tatami mats and sky by 黄身

Some rooms in Cluster use darkness as an important aspect of composition, with sparse sounds to heighten emotion. The map can either feel uneasy or welcoming, depending on who's visiting the map. I think this is a strong style that deserves to be explored by different worldbuilders.

Some maps in the "new" section are created by brand-new users who don't know what they're doing yet. Stay patient and keep scrolling. There's gold in them worldhopping hills, and the photos you get from these trips are worth it when you find something enjoyable.

Cluster also has a lot of minigames. Idle card battle games, mini-mmos, everything. They can lack the polish of a AAA game, but they're still fun and easy to get into.

Getting Started With Sightseeing

If you're ready to go, you can register for Cluster here. Below is a list of worlds I recommend, on top of what's already been linked:


Happy travels!