Friday, April 12, 2013

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Can Second Life Become the Killer App for Oculus Rift? Only If Linden Lab Goes All In

Second Life Oculus Rift

Following up on his first impressions with the Oculus Rift dev kit, virtual world innovator Jon "Keystone" Brouchoud argues that Second Life is the killer app for the technology, but OpenSim will develop for it first. He offers ten reasons he thinks this will be so, though most of them are actually reasons why Second Life should be the killer app. While I agree with that hope, I respectfully think there's several reasons why it won't:

  • Oculus Rift is expensive: The consumer model isn't set for release until 2014, doesn't even have its features locked in, and is slated to be sold for between $200-300. It'll be very difficult to build a killer app from that high a price point.
  • Oculus Rift developers are overwhelmingly FPS game-centric: While Jon notes that the Rift will probably induce motion sickness in FPS games, the fact remains that most of the games currently in development for the Rift are FPS. (Read the list here.) With its heavist and most prominent backing from FPS innovators like John Carmack, Gabe Newell, and Cliff Bleszinski, the Rift's has already been framed as a killer app not for virtual worlds like Second Life, but for first-person shooters.

That said, Jon offers a very good reason for pushing Second Life as an alternative model for Rift content:

Rift is lonely. Take a stroll around the Tuscany demo, and you’ll feel it. You’re the only one there. The deep sense of immersion only underscores the fact. The multi-player facility of SL offers the opportunity to meet with others, share your work, take a look at what they’ve been working on, and just hang out.

Second Life already has that architecture in place, and its developers have put tremendous effort into making the 3D experience a social one, as opposed to a gaming environment with some social aspects. However, for Second Life to become a killer app for Oculus Rift (or vice versa), there would need to be enormous buy-in from Linden Lab. It wouldn't be enough to allow third-party developers to add Rift compatibility to their viewers, because that would only insure its limited use only by the most hardcore users. Even worse were it just OpenSim developers working on Rift-compatible applications, because OpenSim steadfastly remains a non-consumer ready product, and a niche within Second Life's niche. No: to be a true killer app, Linden Lab would need to spend millions making sure Second Life was optimized to work with Rift, and even packaged together with it somehow as a consumer product. (Hey kids, buy Oculus Rift today and get a free copy of Second Life with L$1000 Lindens and a free hoverboard!)

Could Linden Lab do that? I believe they have the millions in cash reserves to do so, but it would be an enormous gamble. So I doubt that will happen. Then again, I have a feeling Philip Rosedale is already planning to merge his new VR technology with the Rift.

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Michelle Leckrone

Really at the end the day they need to make a new virtual worlds as Linden labs haven't been able to update their client quick I don't see this being done quickly unless there is the miracle of hope to get another company to do it it would be quicker I'm hoping somebody will prove me wrong

Hope Dreier

Actually the official Sl viewer is used by a minority of users. Third party viewers comprise 2/3 of the users.


I don´t see why there need to be large investments. It´s similar to going into mouselock. And regarding the price, a new TFT is also sold at 200-300 USD. Some people pay 100 USD for a single computer game. I would buy the Oculus.

Wolf Baginski

On the cost...

Just how much does a private island cost?


I do not think it matters what linden lab do. I was on a lecture on Augmented reality and new cool stuff is coming to the digital world.
As a digital artist i hope the Rift is coming to both Opensim and Second life. Oohh what things i could create!

Orca Flotta

Some questions from a SL granny:
- How do I find my keyboard when wearing the Oculus?
- Can I still see the menu and send notices and IMs? Open the worldmap? Sort inventory?
- Do I have at least an option to view/check my avie from 3rd person perspective?
- How do I make photos?
- Can hubby and me huddle together in front of the oculus and watch videos when I'm not in world? I mean when it costs 200-300 bucks I can only afford either or.
- or is that thing only for gaming? What if I'm not in SL to shoot anybody?

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Keyboard, or even worse, mouse/trackball/etc.!

I guess you'd need some sort of "antimouselook" to switch to a 3rd person perspective...maybe the function of mouselook could toggle depending on whether you're using Oculus or not?

Adeon Writer

So a Rift will cost about one month of a private region, or possibly less. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Connie Arida

A hand tracker like Leap Motion would probably work when gestures are mapped to many KB/ Mouse controls. Cheap as chips too.


If you want to run a Barber Shop (use case), it matters to listen to Client Procurement Requirements for a haircut (opportunities) first, this is what impacts your Revenue Sheet, then you can think about the Barber Chair (tool).

A Barber Chair doesn't run a Barber Shop, it's vice-versa...

Metacam Oh

As long as Linden Lab keeps SL as a closed project and doesn't allow open source contributions and 3rd party innovations, they will die a slow death. They are a nanny state the opposite of probably everything Rosedale wanted it to be.

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