Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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With Creatorverse, Linden Lab Finally Thinking About the Real Future of Virtual Content Creation - On Tablets

Tablet content creation for kids

If you want to know why Linden Lab's unveiling of the iPad app Creatorverse is so important to the future of virtual content creation, you should probably watch a kid playing with a tablet. (Like my three year old nephew Henry, pictured rocking an iPad above.) According to Gartner Research, 665 million tablets will be in use by 2016, over 45% of them iPads. Children who first experienced the iOS at 5 years old in 2007 are now 10, and in the next few years, will become a major sector of the gaming market. As the market grows, they'll come to expect interactive experiences on touchscreen tablets, not laptops.

I wrote about this recently in a report for Sylus (reg. req.), a trend-watching journal. There I noted the success of Toca Boca, an iPad game developer which makes sandbox creation games for kids, selling over 12 million copies:

As Toca Boca CEO Björn Jeffery told me then, “The key factor here is the touch screen, which will most likely become ubiquitous in all types of interfaces,” says Jeffery. “Having grown up with those types of interactions, it is possible that gestures that have to be learned/taught today, will become natural straight away.” And the kids learning about iPads now will come to expect pure, open-ended experiences at their fingertips in years to come -- in games from Toca Boca, and likely, products like Creatorverse.

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cube republic

I disagree, some games will be on tablets, but the immersion is like playing on a game boy. Tablets/mobiles will always be with us and they will become more a part of our environment and an every day appliance. Interesting to note windows new surface is marketed at coming with a keyboard. This is probably down to consumer demand and trends, not everyone likes tap-a-screen. Gaming on the other hand will become even more fantastic and probably involve some kind of headset/console. People will always want bigger screens. So expect to see more advances in the human-computer-interface, but the tablet is not the last stop on this journey, it's an interim novelty at best.

shockwave yareach

There are things you can do with a touchscreen, like drag and drop and futz and twiddle knobs on virtual synths (Yay Arturia!)

There are things you cannot do with a touchscreen, like touch type and issue game commands (movements, attacks, defenses) immerse yourself in the world you are covering up with your fingers to interface with.

Tablets and iphones are a new device. But they aren't going to become the only device. There will always be desktops and more likely laptops as well. The desktop didn't die at the arrival of the laptop, the PDA, the smartphone, or the cloud. It's not going to die because tablets are also on the market, either.

Chartist

"I disagree, some games will be on tablets, but the immersion is like playing on a game boy."

What makes anyone think that most people want immersive video gaming experience?

Shava Nerad/Shava Suntzu in SL

Actually immersion is generally being able to use voice directly for the wider public, without resorting to keyboard, for incoming generations.

We just are not used to voice that works (with fonts and such if required).

People don't type IRL, although I know it's sometimes hard to remember. :)

shockwave yareach

@Chartist - you believe billions have been spent on advanced graphics hardware and computer throughput just so we can NOT have a realistic looking game experience? A visually Immersive experience?

Tell you what. Take a look at what games are for sale today that are high def and nearly photorealistic. Then tell me how many games are cartoony and not photorealistic.

Now tell me how many of these 60$+ games are visually improved by my covering it up with my thumb and index finger...

Alberik Rotaru

It really might be better to talk to some gamers before proclaiming the death of the desktop. And it really might be better for Linden Lab to have a hard think about the state of its core product. The Steam community are not to be encouraged into new LL offerings after they see the state of LL's core product.

Jason

The world is not black and white. People will use tablets, they will use more powerful laptops and still there is nothing like a desktop. You cannot be immersed into a virtual world on a mobile device. It´s just not fun. The only thing I will exchange my 24'' screen for is an even bigger one.

Iggy

Folks, I have some news from 20-something, college-kid land. The desktop already is dead. We are at nearly 100% laptop usage and tablets are sneaking in slowly.

Upwardly mobile US college kids don't want the sort of immersion several here describe. They want 24/7 access to a web of friends IRL. They want augmentation and constant contact. Gaming is something done as an occasional diversion, like watching a movie.

Often it's with a console and a friend or two. It's not the solitary gamer-at-the desktop-game playing an MMORPG or SL. That's decidedly uncool.

But so is building model kits.

I'm sure that companies will provide desktop-centric games for hard-core gamers for years to come. I build model aircraft and tanks, and I can still get them and a zillion supplies my local hobby shops never carried in the 1960s and 70s. It's a paradise for my brand of geek.

But the demographic who follow model-building is aging steadily with only a few youngsters coming into the fold. I've seen Hamlet's figures about gamers; the average age of serious gamers is rising, too.

So enjoy what you do. The world is full of niches. We are in one right here at NWN.

jo yardley

Not for me.
I don't even have a mobile phone or an Ipad and want to keep it that way.

Sandy Sandalwood

OMG! Don't be such troglodytes. We're entering the 20-teens and the 2020s are right around the corner. Try to think forward and let go of the past.

Extropia DaSilva

On the ease of use of multitouch screen, Micheal Saylor claims it is enjoyable because it is 'shape processing rather than symbol processing, so its wired deep into our minds'. Whereas symbol processing is a recently evolved skill that only highly evolved creatures can perform at all, and only human beings have a general purpose capacity with symbols for almost everything (much of which takes considerable, purposeful effort in order to decypher their meaning) shape processing is an ancient and basic skill. In humans it appears much earlier in life, which is why 18 month old infants can operate multitouch screens.

Extropia DaSilva

Humans are social animals and nothing feels more immersive than social interaction. When you meet up with friends in Second Life, the social interaction that ensues draws you into the world far more effectively than the most visually resplendent game beamed straight to the visual cortex (plus other senses suitably stimulated). Of course, these days nearly all videogames have online multiplayer capability so there is no reason why we cannot have the best of both: Rich social interactions taking place in fully immersive virtual environments.

foneco zuzu

And we will always be speaking about the death of the desktop for quite a few years, seems All forgot about the Spectrum, how smaller it was! Or can it be that USa never knew about Sir Sinclair product?

Adeon Writer

I only have an iPhone myself, so I won't be able to enjoy this title but I wish LL the best of luck, It's on my list of apps to get if I ever do get a tablet in the future.

In the mean time, all my eyes are on Patterns.

Arcadia Codesmith

When portables can do everything desktops can do, they'll displace desktops. Not before then. It'll probably take a mass-market HUD that can translate the little screen into a big (virtual) display before that happens.

Iggy

@Sandy, troglodytes? You will take my 1/35 scale T-34 tank model out of my cold, geriatric fingers.

But I do have an iPad. Change happens. My first-ever smart phone will be a Droid, however, because I love Google Street View and grow weary of Apple's current emphasis.

@Arcadia: virtual displays + docking station + Moore's Law = final demise of the desktop.

Orca Flotta

When I first came into SL (2007) I only had a 12" subnotebook with Intel graphics. The world looked like shit for me ...

Upgraded to a 15'6 lappy with dedicated AMD graphics, the world became beautifullerer but soon the machine died from overheating. Yes, it's dead beyond any means of repair within considerable budget :(

So, next step: a big heavy noisy box, Nvidia gpu, lots of RAM, powerful cpu, a chunky keyboard, a 24" screen! Happy SL resident now :)

Mobile? Portable? Hardly. So what? When I travel I can still use a laptop (or a tablet for that matter) and connect to the internet, can even play SL to some extent. But it's not the same, it's like a step back into the past. It's not as immersive as I'd like the experience to be, it's a lot less fun. So I keep my SL sessions rather short, 1 to 2 hours tops.

Laptops and tablets still have a long way to come before they are fit for real gaming. As already mentioned, fingers swooshing across the screen are a no-go for gaming and much too labour intense as well.
The sound coming out of the pads is terrible, the graphics are so far sub par, it's awkward.

There is a market for tablets, sure, else they wouldn't sell like hot cakes. They are nifty little things for consumers, for brief visits to amazon, to facebook, to check your mail, to check your bank account ... but gaming, playing SL? C'mon, it's just not what they are intended for, it's not their fortune.

kirstenlee

I cannot use a tablet due to the ability for me to far too easily throw it against a wall in a fit of nerd rage...

Ezra

@Iggy "Folks, I have some news from 20-something, college-kid land. The desktop already is dead. We are at nearly 100% laptop usage and tablets are sneaking in slowly."

Come on now, that's an incredibly ridiculous statement, especially for a college campus. Is anything going on other than say, word processing?

I would really love to hear how anything involving audio (DSPs and MIDI interfaces don't matter anymore?), video (encoding on as beefy a processor as possible doesn't matter anymore?), non-trivial programming (there's a difference between building a web page on an Air and having to rely on as many CUDA cores as possible), and heck even print (Retina has replaced ColorEdge monitors?)

Our work devices double as leisure devices. So of course gaming on tablets and laptops has some kind of a future, but why should mobile gaming be anymore competitive with desktop gaming than using Office on iPad is competitive to using Office on a desktop? Granted I'm sure there's some faux debate out there about the future of word processing but just as none of us care about that the vast majority of gamers probably don't care about where their gaming happens. Since likely it's going to be a mix.

Having a desk and a workstation isn't going to go away if your work requires it. If it doesn't and you can get by on an iPad or the thinnest of ultrabooks, awesome. But that's not everyone. And work aside there's still millions of people who're going to be into building 3,000 dollar machines just to have the most realistic graphics a game can offer. Tablets won't usurp this, they don't have to. They're just another option.

The religious debate is silly, buy what you need or want. Gaming and software is going to continue to flourish in every form factor where it makes sense to, and it doesn't make sense to end gaming on desktops just because there's some gaming on tablets.

Hamlet Au

No doubt there's going to be a decent market for desktops for at least the next decade -- indeed, Forrester Research argues tablet sales will *increase* desktop sales -- but it's important to keep in mind why I put a photo of my nephew on this post. The next generation of computer users are growing up on tablets and smartphones, and they have very little motivation to learn how to use an older form factor. Desktop owners already skew older, 30s through 60s, and as they keep getting older, developers will develop for them less and less. (Which will also drive them to reluctantly adopt tablets themselves.)

Joker

Right.. the BESTEST graphics and bigger SCREENS and Game Consoles to play them on "HAS'NT" been the trend for 25 years.

Gameboys plus phone plus mp3 plus siri will only get smaller. glasses and chips and earpieces. and for a few, Dick Tracy watches or pocket luggage.

I can give a 2 year old a rock and take the same picture of self satisfaction.

Ezra

"I can give a 2 year old a rock and take the same picture of self satisfaction."

'Touch' really is the interface of the future though. The fact that a kid is learning it, even through playing, is relevant. All major operating systems and hardware vendors are banking on touch whether its touchscreens, touchpads, or Microsoft's new touch mouses.

The relevance ends about there though because 99% of us didn't take into adulthood the things we played with as a kid. There's exceptions like those that played games on Apple IIs and that transitioned perfectly in life over into using Macs and PCs for productivity tools, but the Apple II was a workstation first and the iPad is a leisure device first.

If the picture above was a kid on a MacBook Air playing a game out of the Mac App Store, it'd be more telling about kids' futures beyond their future of using play devices. But the above is about as meaningful as my playing NES as a kid; incredibly important towards my ability to use an Xbox now, but that's about it.

Cecil

Be sure to tell your nephew that he won't "own" any of his creations and that he should just ignore the wave of drop down ads promoting colas and burgers.

What a nice future you and LL have planned out for him.

Arcadia Codesmith

"@Arcadia: virtual displays + docking station + Moore's Law = final demise of the desktop."

I can live with that. At that point you've essentially reinvented the desktop, only better.

Iggy

"Come on now, that's an incredibly ridiculous statement, especially for a college campus. Is anything going on other than say, word processing?"

It's not an exaggeration. We are at nearly 100% laptop adoption at my school. I should know: I've taught there since 1991.

Lots goes on beyond word processing: using course management systems, social networking, photo editing. These are not gamers at a liberal-arts college with lots of upwardly mobile kids. Serious gaming is seen as a GPA and internship killer.

You only need a modern laptop for any of the things I list. You need higher-end apps, you go to a lab and find a desktop.

desmond shang

I have to agree with the college / laptop adoption perspective; I bought an iMac for my daughter and sent her to college with it... only to find that it simply didn't work out. A few weeks later, I was driving 400 miles one way to drop off a new Macbook Air...

The kids do study groups at various locales, work on projects together... and forcing them back to their dormitories to work causes all kinds of issues both technical and social. With a laptop, regardless of where they are spending time, the coursework stands a chance of actually getting done.

This has had a lot to do with the rise of ebooks too, vis a vis the cost of a hardcopy textbook. Imagine if you had to go back to the dormitory (and stay there) to read your books.

I can see the day when tablets with maybe a physical keyboard cover will do 99% of what college students need.

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