Thursday, October 20, 2016
Virtual World Experts in 2006 Were Wildly, Wildly Wrong About the Future of VR & the Metaverse in 2016
Now that Robert Scoble and other top VR experts are helping develop a new roadmap for the future of virtual reality with Reuben Steiger, I looked back to the Metaverse Roadmap that Robert, Reuben, and a lot of other folks in the virtual world/reality industry (including myself) helped write ten years ago, in 2006. Reading it is an exercise in humility, because it is mostly wackily, wackily wrong. For instance, here's a statement for the report that I helped draft with report lead author Jerry Paffendorf and others:
"Invisible, unobtrusive PDAs will be the cellphones of 2016, and they will access a datascape where information is presented in a variety of contexts-- metaverse as the operating system of 2016. The walled gardens of fantasy and narrative will become just one annex among many in the metaverse, which will be an equal and parallel partner to the legacy mediums of popular culture-- music, film, TV, celebrity. Real world companies will be incubated, developed, and in large part run in the metaverse. This will engender a high degree of personal entrepreneurship—metaverse as the EBay of 2016. "The developed world will be subsumed by the metaverse. Developing nations will collectively share metaverse portals that will enable them to join the global economy. The datascape, providing constantly updated knowledge about every corner of the world and accessible by all, will create total transparency over politics, the health of the globe’s citizens, and the planet itself."
At the time ten years ago, I was 100% positive this would all be happening right now. But turns out we were about 80% wrong. Let's look at it point by point:
More & More Virtual Fashion Bloggers Now Vlogging Too
I'm seeing more YouTube videos like this on a regular basis -- SL fashion bloggers turning on the video capture to record and upload SL fashion vlogs. (This one in particular being from UK fashionista Saffron in the blogosphere and The Sulphur Rose on YouTube, who's got a great voice and personality for video.)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Metaverse Pioneer Who Helped Launch Last VR Hype Wave Proposes Drawing New Map of Our Mixed Reality
Help Draw a Map of Reality is a new proposal from Linden Lab alum Reuben Steiger and some two dozen VR developers to create a new guide to a world impacted by VR, AI, augmented reality experiences like Pokemon Go, and so on, including:
- A STATEMENT A single statement defining why now is a definitive moment in the history of mankind and a vision for guiding our efforts and energy.
- CATEGORIES AND FRAMEWORKS (This is the largest single deliverable). The future of simulated reality requires common naming conventions. We will attempt to create a working model so that relationships between disciplines and markets are clearer. For each category, there will be an Editor.
- A MAP: A graphical representation of the systems, software, content and markets that comprise the future of networked experiences.
If you want to get involved in this consortium, register your interest on Reuben's Medium, or on Reuben's Facebook page. VR veterans will feel some very keen deja vu, and there's a very good reason for that:
Insilico, Landmark Second Life Location, Reportedly Closing Soon Due to Mounting Financial Losses
This is big: Insilico, the masterpiece, cyberpunk-themed Second Life location which has been among the most beautiful and popular SL destinations for over 8 years, is reportedly closing in the next few weeks:
We still have the sims until the end of their respective tiers. Central and South will be dropped on the 28th/1st, but East and South East will remain until November 17th... after which they too will go their separate ways. The Ning will hang on for a while longer after that, but for how long I cannot say as we don’t have access to the creator account. In the meantime, continue RPing and taking in the sites. Enjoy it while you can. Take pictures, tell war stories, have a party. [Click here to visit Insilico in Second Life]
So reads a new announcement on the official Insilico site. This comes roughly six months after Skills Hax, Insilico's lead creator, was temporarily banned from SL by Linden Lab. Since then, manager Abeus Madruga says, Insilico's revenue sources have been drying up to a point where they can no longer cover tier costs:
Hillary Clinton Has a Hyperrealistic Head in Second Life
And just in time for the third Presidential debate which is likely to be more surreal than anything Second Life could conjure up, you can be Hillary with this mesh head. Perfect companion piece to the equally hyperrealistic Trump avatar. Not that I'm suggesting SLers should use these to create, I don't know, hilarious Hillary vs. Trump cage match wrestling machinimas, except that I totally am.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Most People Need the Cut: What Ashton Kutcher Gets About VR Most in the Valley Miss
Aston Kutcher, star of Jobs (above) and irrevocably, of Dude, Where's My Car, is also a well-respected tech industry investor, and he recently made this really sharp point about the problem VR faces:
“Everybody’s way too overhyped on VR,” he said. “You have to buy into this basic notion that people don’t want the cut ... Since the beginning of time, people sat around a campfire and told their stories. They cut the boring parts and moved through the interesting parts. That’s how you tell a story.”
“The minute you’re forced into a platform where you don’t get a cut, all of a sudden you get into this ambiguous short-form zone that has to be short to even engage an audience,” he added.
That's not a point that would have immediately occurred to me, but like most people in tech and definitely like most people in VR, I'm a hardcore gamer, and I'm in the mindset of that 3-4% of the world who don't necessarily want a cut.
Virtual Mining of Virtual Currency Used to Keep Real People Warm in Siberia
In Putin's Russia, heating bill pays YOU:
During the Bitcoin mining process mining equipment generally gets heated, and this heat can be used for warming premises. According to the businessman, there are perfect conditions for such a use case in Russia: electricity is very cheap and heating season is long... Electricity costs when for mining equipment instead of heating equipment remain the same, but their owners also receive bitcoins, which not only compensates the expenses, but also generates revenue, says the entrepreneur.
Which come to think of it, is probably the only scalable use case of Bitcoin in general. If the people of Siberia teamed up with people in other frozen climates of the world to actually start using Bitcoin as money, we might finally have a virtual money that people actually use as money. (While also using it to help pay the heating bill.)
Cool Tool Turns Second Life Locales Into Little Planets
The IOL Camera Panoramic is another cool SL tool for taking those 360 degree panoramic Second Life images which have become all the rage. Erythro Asimov used it to create this panoramic I blogged a few weeks ago and it also includes a feature to create the image you see above (also by Ms. Asimov): A little tiny fricking planet!
Monday, October 17, 2016
How to Separate VR Hype from VR Reality: Track Usage As Well As Ownership
VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi posts a somewhat skeptical summary of a VR penetration forecast, but from my point of view, isn't skeptical enough:
Boston-based Strategy Analytics said that 11.4 million Americans will own a VR headset by the end of 2016. With prices ranging from under $15 for a Google Cardboard headset to $800 for an HTC Vive, VR headsets will generate nearly $556 million worth of sales in the U.S. this year, according to the company. “Penetration in the U.S. is higher than in other countries, partly due to the greater number of headset giveaways to promote the technology,” said David MacQueen, analyst for Strategy Analytics’ global wireless practice, in a statement. “Samsung is giving away lots of Gears with new handsets, Google has given a lot away too, and even the New York Times gave 1.5 million to their subscribers to try out a series of VR documentaries.”
To be sure, tracking the total install base is important, and something I do a lot, but ownership is only part of the puzzle. The other key piece is usage, and from what we know now, most VR devices aren't not being used all that much.
For example, that New York Times giveaway of Google Cardboard that Strategy Analytics mentions? Here's the problem there:
Monday SL Machinima: Surreal "Gravity is a Mistake"
Yes, yet it is:
Via Eupalinos Ugajin, who has many more on his site here. As you can probably guess, this features "Gravity is a Mistake", Eupalinos' Linden Endowment for the Arts installation from last Spring. Ziki Questi has a write-up here.
Top Four New World Notes Posts from Last Week!
- How Sansar Differs from Second Life: One Early Preview User's Perspective
- High Fidelity Video Demo Sets Bar for Other VR Worlds
- University of Western Australia's Second Life Presence Saved at Last Moment by Community, University of San Jose
- Sansar Teaser Pics Should Look Better Than Second Life, But Don't (Comment of the Week)
Friday, October 14, 2016
What is Linden Lab Building on This New, Largely Adult-Rated Second Life Continent?
In late September 2016 Linden Lab added a series of new Linden Project regions (over 40+) far north of the mainland in Second Life. These regions (named HR/HC/HIH) are currently closed to the public but they are mainly rated Adult which is rather interesting.
Speculating wildly, I'd guess it could be a themed area for skill gaming, which could become pretty lucrative if Linden can get the first-time user experience right.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Watch Alicia Chenaux Have Fun With WindLight Settings
... because New World Notes is on semi-hiatus for today!
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
How Sansar Differs from Second Life: One Early Preview User's Perspective
A longtime Second Life user and professional developer I'll call "Shin Ra" just shared with me his (or her) experiences in Sansar, which they've been using over the last few months during the closed Creator Preview. Without going into specifics that might violate Linden Lab's NDA, Shin Ra compares Sansar to Second Life this way:
SL and Sansar are different animals. Neither is better than the other at everything. There are things that I wouldn't dare to do in SL that might fit in an Experience or set of experiences in Sansar (especially ideas that in SL would require severe tier upkeep because of land requirements), and there are things I could do in SL that I probably will never be able to in Sansar if they opt for a conservative toolbox of functions.
It's like the difference between Disneyland and your hometown.
The reasons for that are many, Shin Ra went on:
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
High Fidelity Video Demo Sets Bar for Other VR Worlds
Memo to Sansar staff at Linden Lab: Now this is what a VR world demo should be:
Compared to, say, Metaworld, or AltSpaceVR, or even Oculus Rooms, the avatars are far more robust and expressive, as are the user creativity options. Especially when you add this HiFi scripting and physics demo:
Babbage Breaks News: Ex-Linden Lab Engineer Now Working on Oculus Avatars & Rooms!
In case you missed it during the controversy over Palmer Luckey's suspicious absence, here's highlights from last week's Oculus Connect 3 conference -- watch especially starting around 2:50:
... because as it happens, one of the lead developers of Oculus Avatars and Rooms was once a lead developer of Second Life: Jim "Babbage Linden" Purbrick, who left Linden on a longboard in 2010. It's amusing when younger VR enthusiasts inform me that Second Life is "not really VR", when so many developers of Second Life are behind the scenes shaping the current generation of the platform:
University of Western Australia's Second Life Presence Saved at Last Moment by Community, University of San Jose
Good news from Jay Jay Zifanwe, who's managed the University of Western Australia's five simulator-wide presence in Second Life for over seven years, which looked likely to disappear last month:
"An 11th hour reprieve," he says. "All of the five sims are alive through mid-2017 (in part thanks to a lot going on behind the scenes including SL residents making direct offers to UWA senior management to help keep the sims alive). While all five sims are still there, one of those has transferred ownership to the University of San Jose, although in operation will remain as it has been in the location it has been."
Wonderful (if temporary) reversal of fortune for Second Life's art scene, as UWA is one of its last prominent sponsors. Go here for more on this change on the official UWA in SL blog.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Sansar Teaser Pics Should Look Better Than Second Life, But Don't (Comment of the Week)
Reader JohnC performed a pretty brutal autopsy on the latest Sansar teaser image from Linden Lab (above) released late last week:
I honestly don't mean to keep dissing these images that keep appearing, but when you are developing something new such as Sansar, and when you act in a totally secretive way about the product, then anything you release deserves critical attention. There is absolutely nothing special about this image that would warrant it being released as special in some way, as far as I can see. If I were in Second Life right now I could go there and in an hour or so, maybe a lot less, I could come up with a shot that looked easily as good as this, if not better. In fact I could go take some shots in Arranmore that was featured in a post here the other day and get more atmospheric impressive shots than this.
JohnC goes on to propose the kind of teaser pics and videos he's hoping to see from Sansar:
Top Seven New World Notes Posts from Last Week!
- Virtual Hype, Real Numbers: Total Projected VR Install Base for 2016 Under 6.25 Million
- New Sansar Screenshot Evokes SL Artist AM Radio
- In Jane Austen-Themed MMO, Telling Lies is a Player vs. Player Mechanic
- Wages of Trump: Palmer Luckey Pulled from Oculus Conference, Facebook Seems Set on Taking Over VR Brand
- High Fidelity Hiring Virtual Reality-Based "Greeters"
- 2016 Looks Like The Year Bitcoin Transactions Peaked
- Sansar Survey: Only About 1 in 10 Have Signed Its NDA
Friday, October 07, 2016
Virtual Hype, Real Numbers: Total Projected VR Install Base for 2016 Under 6.25 Million
This is what a niche of a niche of a niche looks like:
From SuperData Research, for my money the best game industry analytics firm out there, an even factoring in the just-announced Google Daydream, the total install base for all mid to premium VR HMDs is projected to grow to way less than 7 million. With console and mobile-based devices, from Sony and Samsung respectively, way ahead of the Vive and Rift, which still get way more publicity.
I say this is a niche of a niche of a niche, and there's a very good reason for that:
New Sansar Screenshot Evokes SL Artist AM Radio
Hello, new Sansar screenshot just popped up on the otherwise quiet official Twitter account:
Love the volumetric atmospherics yo. And maybe it's just me, but the lonely red door standing by itself distinctly reminds me of acclaimed metaverse artist AM Radio, who I profiled a couple years ago. Is he doing things for Sansar, or is this an homage, intentional or otherwise?
Anyway, here's the AM Radio installation from 2008, you tell me:
Why SL Developers Should Use Advanced Lighting
Nalates has a good tutorial for and background on the Advanced Lighting Model, which Linden Lab recently added to Second Life to give users more and better options for illuminating a scene. Trouble is, she says, is many people still don't take advantage of it in their SL locations: "We can’t get any information on how many people are using ALM. We’ve been asking for a couple of years now. So, creatives and merchants have some hesitancy about building for ALM. Understandable. But, I ran with ALM enabled on my old machine and still got 10 to 30 FPS in most cases. Shadows killed me, not ALM." So she makes the in-depth case for adding ALM here. Whatever you do, don't do lighting like this:
Thursday, October 06, 2016
In Jane Austen-Themed MMO, Telling Lies is a Player vs. Player Mechanic
Ever, Jane, the Jane Austen-themed, still-in-Beta MMO lead-designed by Linden Lab alum Judy Tyrer, has an amazing game mechanic I've never quite seen before in an MMO: Telling lies about other players' characters to cause player damage.
"The lies come from Pride and Prejudice," Judy tells me, citing the Austen novel that inspired this. Willoughby lies about Darcy. "We haven't sufficiently impressed stats on players yet but gossip affects your stats, so if a lie is spread about you, you start to lose reputation. If you catch the liar, the loss comes back to you double."
Which is fricking brilliant... and, I bet, likely to cause player vs. player ragequitting as brutal as when players shoot crossbows into each others' face. So you know this Jane Austen game is hardcore. (Video below.)
Judy tells me they're still integrating lies and the consequence of lies into the game's content:
Wages of Trump: Palmer Luckey Pulled from Oculus Conference, Facebook Seems Set on Taking Over VR Brand
[A] jaw-dropping report from The Daily Beast that Palmer Luckey has been secretly funding a pro-Trump organization founded by some uniquely noxious online racists...
Oculus co-founder and Trump troll financier Palmer Luckey was conspicuously missing from the keynote stage at today’s Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose, CA. That likely related to the backlash against news that Luckey donated $10,000 to Nimble America, a pro-Trump non-profit dedicated to bashing Hillary Clinton with offensive memes.
MMO Blogger Asks, Can Second Life Be Pretty?
Spoiler: Yes, if you're willing to take the time and effort to make it so. Not totally surprising, as MMO YouTuber/longtime MMO blogger Beau Hindman has been writing about and playing in Second Life for over a decade.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
High Fidelity Hiring Virtual Reality-Based "Greeters"
In yet another sign of the VR boom times we're currently living, you can now make a real life living by standing around in virtual reality being friendly with other people in virtual reality:
High Fidelity's Greetsquad is a small team that work on a short-shift (4 hours) basis monitoring new user activity in High Fidelity. In addition to interacting with new users, Greeters will be encouraged to help improve the first time user experience and the High Fidelity welcome area. Greeters are expected to have access to HMD VR equipment (e.g. HTC Vive controllers) and work from their own hardware.
Media Partnership With New World Notes Now Available!
Interested in becoming a Media Partner with New World Notes, the oldest and largest blog with a primary focus on Second Life, VR, and virtual worlds? We got ~125,000 visits last month, according to Similar Web, we're expanding coverage of the next generation in virtual worlds and VR, and perhaps more key, we get our partners results. At left, for instance, is the clickthrough rates to the Second Life Marketplace listing of a recent partner, after just 4 months.
Read on for more:
SL Flickr of the Day: Thorns on the Road to Neva River
"Some thorns on the road", the latest from master SL landscape photographer Pepa Cometa, is not (despite appearances) enhanced with any post-production. "Just played with WindLight, not edited, moving the sun position," she tells me. The magic touch is she used a custom WindLight created for "City Inside Out", an SL installation built by Haveit Neox. (Video of that below.) As for the sim itself, that's Neva River sim, by Neva Virenque and Keon Xenga: Click here to visit.
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
2016 Looks Like The Year Bitcoin Transactions Peaked
Every quarter I check to see how many people actually use the virtual currency Bitcoin as money, and for Q4 2016, not much has changed: around 150,000-250,000 daily transactions. Meaning at most, some 100,000 unique Bitcoin users, give or take, in the entire world. Meaning that Linden Dollars, with its 400,000 people regular users in Second Life (as insiders tell me), is still larger than Bitcoin.
For Bitcoin zealots -- and there are many, or at least, active enough to seem like many -- the trends look even worse when you look at this quarter compared not to the last twelve months, but since the time Bitcoin first virtually existed, in 2009:
Second Life "Let's Play" Videos Need More People!
Just in time for Halloween, here's an eerie tour by Veemonthedemonking through Arranmore, a beautifully horrible island of fog, secrets, and death. (Map link to visit below.) I love "Let's Play"-type videos like this, but just wish there were more with people exploring together, to add player to player repartee, onscreen activity, overall fun. (Witness how hilarious Justin and Griffin McElroy's "Monster Factory" was.) In fact, I want this so much, I'd like to help: If you're a YouTuber about to shoot an SL "Let's Play" and you want traveling companions, Tweet the SLurl at me an hour or two beforehand and I'll retweet, so hopefully others can join the expedition.
What Went Wrong (and Right) With Ello, The No-Real-Names-Needed "Facebook Killer"
Remember Ello, the no-real-names-needed social network that lots of people in 2014 described as a Facebook killer? To judge by its traffic, probably not. Now Backchannel has the inside story of its rise and fall and rise again, and as it turns out, it inadvertently started with Sister Roma, the drag queen activist who led the charge against Facebook's real name policy:
Sister Roma had started a movement. As activists rallied around her, a question emerged: If Facebook was going to demand legal names from its LGBT users, how could those users remain loyal to the social network? That’s when Ello laid out the welcome mat.
Thing is, Ello was never intended to be a Facebook killer, and as Facebook rapidly worked with Roma to carve out a policy that allowed pseudonyms (including for avatars), Ello lost a key growth driver. But all is not lost:
Google Daydream Thrusts VR Into Android vs. iOS Wars
Google has finally revealed the first headset to support it, Daydream View. The headset comes with a controller and launches in November for $79. The new device was revealed at the Made By Google conference in San Francisco today. As expected, Daydream View will run with any Daydream ready smartphone. That includes the two new smartphones Google itself revealed at the event – Pixel and the larger Pixel XL for $649.
Normally my first instinct is to be cranky about anything Google tries to do in the consumer product space, but I actually like the soft, cloth design, making Daydream look less like a high tech device and more like binoculars which happen to see into other worlds. But to me, the big news from this announcement isn't about Daydream per se, but where it fits into the broader ecosystem:
Monday, October 03, 2016
Sansar Survey: Only About 1 in 10 Have Signed Its NDA
Here's the results of last week's survey trying to determine active interest among NWN readers in Linden Lab's Sansar. ("Active" as in "interested enough to actually sign a contract to gain early access.") Surprisingly to me, just over 1 in 10 of our respondents said they've signed the NDA, while just over 1 in 4 have requested early access (but haven't yet been given the NDA form).
Assuming this data scales to Second Life users and people generally interested in virtual worlds who read this blog -- a medium-large assumption, but let's run with it anyway -- there's some interesting, potentially contradictory ways to interpret this data:
Official Second Life Inventory Management So Difficult, User-Made Organizer Quite Popular
After noting how vexing inventory management is in Second Life, reader Madeline Blackbart chimed in to suggest (CTS) Wardrobe, a pretty impressive looking user-made tool which displays whole wardrobes on the web and enables you to wear them with a single click. "It's time-consuming to setup and maintain but worth it," she says. "I basically had to abandon my original main [avatar] because I couldn't stand the inventory. I just wish there was something like CTS wardrobe for furniture and poses." (Above, walkthrough by Marisol Verdugo with non-sexual nudity.)
How VRmania is Like 19th Century Railwaymania - Comment of the Week
Commenting on the US Army's expansion of the OpenSim virtual world platform, Graham Mills (who creates simulations of railways systems), makes a fascinating historical analogy to the current buzz over virtual reality:
Back in 1830 George Stephenson, a taciturn engineer from outside the establishment, built a railway from Liverpool to Manchester. It worked so well that it ignited a period of over-excited investment in what came to be called Railwaymania.
On the upside there was continuous refinement of engines and track and, based on the Liverpool & Manchester experience, guidance for others on the best way to operate a railway safely. On the downside, track was put down without a decent business case, there was duplication of effort, dubious business practice, massive waste of capital. It was definitively not the most efficient way to establish a railway network.
Moreover, initially it was only the wealthy who could afford to travel and the companies did their best to ensure that people would want to pay for a premium experience by making life miserable for those in second class carriages. Ultimately the government stepped in and forced the companies to run a decent service for the average worker.
Anyway, the one thing that outlasted George was standard gauge, the gap between the two rails. Arguably it wasn't optimal but the scale of adoption and need for interoperability between all these little railways ultimately won the day.
Fast forward 186 years and we have VRmania. Lots of small pieces of expensive kit and content, largely isolated in terms of their tech and support for different operating systems, massive duplication of effort, prospect of mergers/acquisitions/closures, standards as optional, premium content closely sequestered, failure to reach potential, disillusionment down the line.
The hardware is one thing (Oculus, Vive, Daydream, Sulon Q, HoloLens, Magic Leap...) but the software is another.
Let's change hats and imagine I'm an educator running a virtual lab. Maybe I bought a nice package that I use as a pre-class simulation. It uses a pipetting device to transfer liquid from one place to another. But times change and we now use a different device in-class not supported in the original package that can't be updated (maybe the vendor went bust and the sim is closed source). I can't change it for a device from another vendor because the objects and avatars don't play together. In reality fingers and thumbs are pretty much a standard (I appreciate that's not always a given) and liquids "know" how to flow under normal gravity.
The solution, he suggests, may lie not in Unity or other high-end premium platforms, but the one very few in VR think about lately:
Top Three New World Notes Posts from Last Week!
- Manager of US Army's OpenSimulator Project Proposes Oversight Be Transitioned to Civilian-Run Foundation
- Palmer Luckey’s Mexican-American Virtual Reality Mentor “Dismayed” by His Support for Pro-Trump Group
- Boy of Couple Who First Met in Virtual World Now Explores New Virtual Worlds With Father
Friday, September 30, 2016
SL Bloggers: Who Wants to Read Presence, a VR Novel by ReadWrite Founder Richard MacManus?
Presence is a new sci-fi novel from Richard MacManus, founder of the huge ReadWrite tech blog, and it's also inspired by Second Life and other virtual worlds:
"The book is set in 2051," he tells me, "when the dominant social network of the era is a virtual world called Doppel. I wanted to explore what a Facebook 35 years into the future would look like. My bet is that it'll be a virtual world, kind of like what Second Life is these days for socializing and doing business. Except in Doppel, your avatar is an exact match of your physical body. The technology is so good in 2051, that you can easily jump between the physical and virtual worlds without noticing much difference."
I'm hoping to read it when I get the chance, and if you're an SL blogger interested in reading it too, Richard has a generous offer:
Manager of US Army's OpenSimulator Project Proposes Oversight Be Transitioned to Civilian-Run Foundation
Interesting proposal from Douglas Maxwell, manager of the U.S. Army’s MOSES OpenSimulator project, which recently got an open source, web-based viewer, for an independent, civilian-run foundation to manage development and evolution of the codebase:
This organization would not be controlled by MOSES in any way, but a parallel civilian entity that shares our work ethic and philosophy for the application of virtual world technology to civilian educational and training uses. Ideally, this foundation would be supported through membership fees, research grants, and service contracts. The foundation should support a staff of code and content maintainers. This foundation would be responsible for the maintenance of a source code repository that would serve as an official residence for a safe and secure open source simulator.
On the surface this looks like a great idea and boon to the future of open source-based virtual worlds:
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Palmer Luckey’s Mexican-American Virtual Reality Mentor “Dismayed” by His Support for Pro-Trump Group
Last weekend, virtual reality pioneer Nonny de la Peña posted a strongly-worded public statement saying how “dismayed” she was to learn that Palmer Luckey has been secretly supporting a pro-Trump advocacy group. This was not surprising, given that Nonny is Mexican-American and has personally experienced the kind of anti-Latina racism Trump regularly trades in. What is surprising but less well-known is this irony: Palmer Luckey may well owe some of his very success in VR to Nonny de la Peña.
- Palmer Luckey was de la Peña’s intern at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, learning and honing much of his VR abilities under her guidance.
- Working with de la Peña in 2012, Palmer Luckey originally built what would become a prototype for the Oculus Rift (nearly a year before his famous Kickstarter) for her acclaimed “Hunger LA” VR experience at the Sundance Film Festival.
- Due to their history together, it's safe to say Nonny de la Peña will probably end up testifying in Zenimax’s lawsuit against Oculus VR, which asserts that Luckey “lacked the training, expertise, resources” to actually build the Rift prototype. Since Nonny de la Peña gave Palmer Luckey much of that very training, expertise, and resources, she is likely the very best witness to protect Palmer Luckey’s credit for creating the Rift.
I just got a chance to talk with Nonny (I’ve known her since she was developing VR projects in Second Life) and she tells me she stands by her Facebook statement. What’s more, she added, she’s hardly the only Latinx offended by the Luckey/Trump revelation:
Where Other MMO Players Give Dungeon Walkthroughs, Second Life Users Give Inventory Management Tutorials
Here's a fun tutorial video by Cassie Middles, explaining how she manages her Second Life inventory, which like every other power user, is massive, bloated, and scattered. Without traditional RPG elements, lots of Second Life users explore their scary inventory pretty much the same way WoW players might explore the latest dungeon instance. Which is a lesson I hope developers of Sansar and High Fidelity are learning right now:
Open Source Version of TiltBrush VR App for the Web
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Boy of Couple Who First Met in Virtual World Now Explores New Virtual Worlds With Father
This is a fun video of a father and son exploring a spaceship they built together in Minecraft, which is a pretty common thing nowadays, but perhaps this video comes with an extra backstory: The dad, Damien Fate, is a well-known content creator for Second Life, and the son, named Linden, likely would not even exist let alone have that name, if it wasn't for that MMO:
Facebook 360 Photos Make Virtual World Photos Come Alive in Your Smartphone
This is lots of fun -- click this link from your smartphone, and assuming you have the Facebook app pre-installed, it should take you to a 360 panoramic pic shot in Second Life by Erythro Asimov. The cool part is when you rotate your phone around you, so does the image -- making a virtual world screenshot seem even more like a window into another reality.
How's this work?
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Survey: Have You Signed Linden Lab's Sansar NDA?
Since asking SL brand owners about their plans (if any) to move to Sansar has turned up scant feedback, here's a new survey that gets us down to virtual brass tacks -- finding out how many people reading this blog or seeing it in my social media channels have even signed the Sansar NDA.
Kickstart This: Dual Universe, Single-Shard MMO With Voxel-Based User-Generated Content
Dual Universe is an intriguing MMO on Kickstarter which has everything to fit my gold standard of a next gen MMO: It's single-sharded, it enables voxel-based user-generated content, and it puts the focus on emergent gameplay in which player behavior impacts the world in unpredictable ways.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Palmer Luckey's Plan to Give Poor Virtual Reality Gets Trump-Powered Viral Boost
Thanks to author Joanne McNeil and journalist Tim Maughan, my Wired article excerpt highlighting Palmer Luckey's plan to give the world's poor a better (simulated) life through VR was shared last weekend by William Gibson, Clay Shirky, and a bunch of other heavy hitters. The funny (in a sadly ironic way) thing is, when it was actually published by Wired last February, it provoked scarce a murmur. Like everything nowadays, it only garnered interest when Trump got involved.
Some favorite Tweets on the topic below:
Transferring Second Life Content to Sansar is "Make-or-Break" for Sansar (Comment of the Week)
Second Life brand owners have been uncharacteristically quiet about Project Sansar, and reader "Rei" has a good explanation why:
Sansar is a total wait and see proposition for me. The inventory to transition [from SL] is huge. For example, I love Blueberry's stuff. (Probably to the tune of $50+ over the past year.) While I cannot expect Blueberry to care too much about that, they cannot really expect me to spend lots of money to get the same stuff back [in Sansar].
Looking at my own content (mostly buildings and landscapes) I do not have much desire to work on old stuff just bring it into Sansar, where presumably I will pay Linden Lab more to sell it. Nor am I willing to pay money to bring it in to Sansar to restore former SL clients' inventory.
I am sure the predicament is not lost Linden Lab:
Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!
- Palmer Luckey's Support for Pro-Trump Group Reminds Me of His Support For Pacifying the Poor With VR
- How to Create 360 Panoramic Shots of Second Life for Twitter & Facebook
- SL Brand Owners: Tell Me If You're Setting Up in Sansar
- Top SL Game Developer Making Games for High Fidelity
- Virtual Worlds "Real" Enough Now (Comment of the Week)
Friday, September 23, 2016
Palmer Luckey's Support for Pro-Trump Group Reminds Me of His Support For Pacifying the Poor With VR -- UPDATE, 7:10pm: Luckey Posts Confusing Apology on Facebook
Now burning up my social media (not to mention the Oculus Rift subbreddit) is this jaw-dropping report from The Daily Beast that Palmer Luckey has been secretly funding a pro-Trump organization founded by some uniquely noxious online racists:
Along with Luckey, Nimble America was founded by two moderators of Reddit’s r/The_Donald, which helped popularize Trump-themed white supremacist and anti-Semitic memes along with 4Chan and 8Chan. A questionnaire to become a moderator at r/The_Donald posted in March had applicants answer the questions “Is there a difference between white nationalism and white supremacy?” and “Was 9/11 an inside job?”
... Before becoming directly involved in the process, Luckey met the man who would serve as the liaison for the nascent political action group, and provide legitimacy to a Reddit audience for later donations without having to reveal Luckey’s identity: Breitbart tech editor and Trump booster Milo Yiannopoulos.
Yiannopoulos, of course, is also one of the official/unofficial leaders of GamerGate (which seems to have mostly matriculated to backing the Trump cause), while Breitbart was developed into a haven for white nationalists by chairman Stephen Bannon... who now leads Trump's campaign. I'm actually not entirely surprised by this news, as I've often seen Luckey write or Tweet things which seemed supportive of Gamergate and/or Trump.
The real curiosity, to me, is the virtual one: How much does Luckey's support for Trump relate to his views on virtual reality, and its importance to society? One clue might be in this passage I wrote for my Wired article last February, which was abbreviated in the final copy, but here's the original, unedited version: